OMBUDSMAN-ALERT: MIT AND THE FUTURE OF INTELLIGENCE

BY DR. LOUIS ALPERT
Ombudsman

Last week, as a member of the MIT community this writer received a letter from MIT President L. Rafael Reif in which stated that “MIT is launching a major new institute-wide initiative on human and machine intelligence-the MIT Intelligence Quest or MIT IQ.”

MIT IQ will consist of two parts:
The first part, known as the Core, will advance the science of both human as well as machine intelligence while the second part, known as the Bridge, will provide custom-built Artificial Intelligence(AI) tools for MIT researchers to accelerate their research. Reif goes on to describe MIT’s distinctive past of 60 years of research in this critical field of Intelligence by stating that “”Big minds lit the fuse on a big question: What is intelligence and how does it work? The result: An explosion of new fields, Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, Modern Linguistics. They all took off at MIT and they have produced remarkable offshoots from computational neuroscience to neural nets, to empathetic robots.”

This Ombudsman who started his teaching career in the MIT Mathematics Department in 1958, precisely 60 years ago, when this Intelligence research first began, found himself right in the midst of the company of pioneers in this field which included Norbert Wiener, who established the science of Cybernetics, Claude Shannon, now known as the “Father of the Information Age” and Marvin Minsky, widely recognized as the “Father of Artificial Intelligence”.

Today, by tapping MIT’s exceptional strength in these and related fields, and by capitalizing on what these disciplines can teach each other, “MIT IQ seeks to(finally) answer two two compelling questions: How does human intelligence work, in engineering terms? And how can we use that deep grasp of human intelligence to build wiser and more useful machines, to the benefit of society?”

President Reif concludes his letter to the MIT community as follows:

“Understanding the nature of intelligence stands as one of the great problems in science: harnessing the forces of artificial intelligence to make a better world stands as a defining challenge of our time. As we begin that important work, I want to thank all members of the faculty who poured the expertise and insight of a lifetime into shaping MIT IQ, The momentum you have built is thrilling, and I look forward with admiration to seeing what you achieve.”

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