MIT Lands AI, Robotics Lab Funds as Senators Propose $2.2B for Gov. Projects

Several military organizations around the world in countries such as India, Russia, and China have begun to consider AI capabilities and investments a critical part of national security. The United States military has taken its AI investments seriously, and is doing more.

U.S. Air Force logo (credit: WikiMedia)

Khari Johnson writes in an article for that the U.S. Air Force is pumping a lot of money into MIT for the development of its AI “dream” programs.

Beginning this summer, about a dozen enlisted members of the Air Force will be assigned to a research and development team to tackle “real-world, national security challenges,” according to an Air Force statement.

The accelerator will not support the creation of autonomous weaponry, MIT professor Maria Zuber told MIT Tech Review. Still, the Air Force isn’t spending big bucks to spread peace and love around the world. The new programs, however, will go beyond merely making weapons towards the big picture of military readiness.

The Air Force plans to commit $15 million a year to the program, according to an announcement shared today. The program will be housed in MIT’s Beaver Works facility but may include faculty, staff, or students from all five colleges, including MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and groups like MIT’s Robotics team.

The Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing scheduled to open this fall will work to make AI part of the education of all fields of study at MIT.

The DoD opened its Joint AI Center last fall and shared its first-ever AI strategy in February, and is currently seeking input about the ethical use of artificial intelligence. Comments can be shared online until September 30. Organizations like the Defense Digital Service (DDS) also recruit tech workers from companies like Google and Facebook to help the military solve problems.

Senators Propose AI Legislation

This legislation proposal shows how much the USA and its rivals worldwide are solidly behind the current state of AI of now, and what it will take to develop the AI of tomorrow. Major funding will be the first step.

Last week, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) proposed the Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act, legislation to pump $2.2 billion into federal research and development and create a national AI strategy.

The $2.2 billion would be doled out over the course of 5 years to federal agencies like the Department of Energy, Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and others. The legislation would establish a National AI Coordination Office to lead federal AI efforts, require the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the effects of AI on society and education, and allocate $40 million a year to NIST to create AI evaluation standards.