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?

This year MIT launched the MIT Intelligence Quest, an initiative to discover the foundations of human intelligence and drive the development of technological tools that can positively influence virtually every aspect of society. And to help ensure that the effects of these advances will, in fact, be positive, MIT researchers are leading a rigorous consideration of the social implications of these new technologies.

“The Core,” one of two linked entities comprising the Intelligence Quest, will advance the science and engineering of both human and machine intelligence. A key output of this work will be machine learning algorithms. At the same time, the Core seeks to advance our understanding of human intelligence by using insights from computer science.

The second of the Intelligence Quest’s linked entities, “The Bridge,” will be dedicated to the application of MIT discoveries in natural and artificial intelligence to all disciplines. The Bridge will provide a variety of assets to the MIT community, including intelligence technologies, platforms, and infrastructure; education for students, faculty, and staff about AI tools; rich and unique data sets; technical support; and specialized hardware.


More from this Issue: Human and Machine Intelligence

Why the Focus on Human Intelligence?

Automation and the Future of Work

Familiar Problems, Cutting-Edge Context

Implications, Discoveries, Applications

An Update from the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab

David Siegel on MIT’s “Challenging and Collaborative Culture”

Eric Schmidt Provides Support to MIT Intelligence Quest

The MIT-SenseTime Alliance on Artificial Intelligence


“We have more than 200 investigators working directly on intelligence-related research areas. Student interest is tremendous. Our undergraduate and graduate classes in AI are oversubscribed. We have industry allies who share our passion for tackling big, real-world problems. And we have an entrepreneurial ecosystem that is unparalleled and that is ready to deliver the ideas that emerge from the MIT Intelligence Quest to the world.”
—Anantha Chandrakasan, Dean of the School of Engineering; Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (MIT Intelligence Quest launch, March 1, 2018)

“MIT’s strengths in brain and cognitive sciences and computer science uniquely position us to lead the effort to understand intelligence, and our faculty and students believe the time is now.
Michael Sipser, Dean of the School of Science; Donner Professor of Mathematics (MIT Intelligence Quest launch, March 1, 2018)

“There’s a list of great problems in science. The origin of the universe, the structure of time and matter, the origin of life. But here, we are after: What is intelligence? How does the brain create the mind? What is consciousness? That’s deeper than everything else, because after all it is with our mind that we try to solve all other problems.”
—Tomaso Poggio, Eugene McDermott Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences; director, Center for Brains, Minds and Machines

“For many years scientists and engineers have aspired to have a stronger connection between living systems and engineered machines. They have used living systems as inspiration for what might be possible in the future with machines. And by studying machines, they have aspired to create hypotheses and models that might explain the mysteries behind living systems.”
—Daniela Rus, Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

“This is a period that started with the rise of all of the fields we work in: cognitive science, neuroscience, artificial intelligence. And it’s only now that they’re mature enough that each one of them can start to deliver on its promises and they can talk to each other and really start to make progress together on the science and engineering of intelligence.”
—Josh Tenenbaum PhD ’99, professor of computational cognitive science

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One comment

  1. Deborah Gutterman

    I appreciate greatly your quests in neuroscience to advance human cognition with the electronic and technical developments that it requires. I am a 60-year-old woman who completed my PhD and postdoctoral research at MIT. I am handicapped with MS sitting in a power wheelchair with limited hand and leg movement. I want to know however what MIT is doing now that will assist me?

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