December 2, 2022
November 4, 2022
Dan Huttenlocher, Dean of MIT Schwarzman School of Computing
All Captioned Videos Advances in the quest to understand intelligence
Jim DiCarlo: I am now going to move to the next piece of the program and to do that I'm going to introduce Dan Huttenlocher. Dan is the inaugural Dean of MIT's new Schwarzman College of Computing. Dan is joining us today via Zoom, but he's actually live there so we'll go. Dan, I hope you can hear us and it's over to you. Yeah. Thanks Dan.
DAN HUTTENLOCHER: I do. Thank you, Jim. So I'm delighted to have the opportunity to welcome you all to the afternoon session of this, "Advances in the quest to understand intelligence." Sorry I'm not there in person with you all, it would be fun. So I just want to make a few comments related to the College and the Quest. So while computing is quite widespread in academic work there's something that's much less common, which is the fusion of the leading edge of computing and other disciplines in a manner that advances both of them. This is one of the core objectives of the College of Computing, which is catalyzing such infusion of the forefront of computing in other fields and doing so both in research and in education.
So the Quest is a paradigmatic example of this objective, bringing together the forefront of AI, neuroscience, and cognitive science research and doing so to address uniquely important goal of understanding human intelligence in computational terms. We believe that this new understanding will have payoffs in advancing academic research in all three of those fields, as well as payoffs in health, education, and many other areas of societal importance. The Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines has positioned MIT to lead in this area, perhaps most notably the community of researchers, and staff that the CBMM NSF grant has enabled is at the core of this effort. And now the Quest is MIT's way of carrying this vision forward more broadly and with the help of our supporters supercharging it and taking it to the next level.
The College is building a platform for research and education that infuses computing with other disciplines and as part of that the Quest will have various kinds of interactions with and support from the College and will support the College conversely. As one part of that, the Quest will have space in the new College building which is slated to open next fall and is adjacent and connected to Building 46 via the atrium. The new building is going to support both research that infuses the forefront of computing with other disciplines and courses in AI research and have space for education. It will also include space for special semesters that can help seed or advance leading edge work, regardless of whether it's part of an existing activity or center.
One of the key means by which the College is capitalizing the infusion of computing in other disciplines is the hiring of at least 25 new junior faculty whose work will help departments across MIT lead computational advances in their field or fields while also furthering core areas of computing such as CS and AI. We call these faculty shared faculty because they have a tenure home in a department somewhere at MIT combined with a joint appointment in a unit of the College and their teaching activities and usually the research activities as well help catalyze change in fields at MIT and change in MIT's education. Two of these shared faculty have been hired recently in Brain and Cognitive Sciences together with the EECS Department, which is helping support the Quest in its vision of bringing together the forefront of AI neuroscience and cognitive science research and, in fact, we'll be hearing from one of them this afternoon, Robert.
On the education front, through the Common Ground for Computing Education, the College is developing new cross-cutting subjects and curricula that reflect perspectives of multiple departments and programs so that it can complement individual departmental offerings. The College is also working with departments on what we term, blended majors, which combine computing and some other discipline. And a great example of that is, of course, 6-9 Computation and Cognition, which is particularly pertinent to the Quest. It's now the fifth largest major at MIT, as of this fall, and it's actually I think about six times larger than the Course 9 major as of this fall.
As I mentioned before, while the College serves as a platform to help support activities such as the Quest, in the end these activities are really what's defining and supporting the College because the College is only a collection of departments and programs relevant to its goals and the achievements of those departments and programs. So the Quest really plays a central and leading role in helping the College through its research missions. For example, work on understanding human intelligence, particularly in this way that infuses these disciplines together, can involve bridging very different scales and these scales can parallel and potentially interact with analogous scales of computing from materials, to devices, to algorithms, to systems both natural and engineered. This offers the opportunity to create connections with a wide range of disciplines and departments all around computing in those disciplines. And we'll be hearing about some nascent such connections in some of the talks this afternoon.
The Quest and the College would not be possible without the help of a number of supporters, some of whom are joining us today, and to you we're really deeply grateful. So with that, let's turn to this afternoon's program. Thank you all very much.