MIT reshapes itself to shape the future
Advances in computing will be a defining force in the next phase of human history, perhaps most visibly with the development of AI systems that augment or replace human decision-making and reasoning. These technologies will deliver opportunities we cannot yet imagine. But they also heighten public interest in longstanding questions about big issues: privacy, public safety, the nature of work, the security of nations. How does society develop a better and broader understanding of such questions, and arrive at solutions that serve the common good?
The MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing is a bold initiative to accelerate pioneering research and innovation in computing, build a profound awareness of the ethical implications and societal impact, and, above all, educate leaders for the algorithmic future.
The creation of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing is motivated by major trends both inside and outside of MIT.
Within the Institute, the numbers of students declaring majors and choosing classes in computer science have reached historic highs. And newly created joint majors between computer science and other fields, including biology and economics, are also proving popular. The MIT Schwarzman College of Computing will enable the creation of new and innovative educational programs, and produce creative computational thinkers and doers with the cultural, ethical, and historical consciousness to use technology for the common good — leaders who will offer the world new technological possibilities grounded in human values.
Similarly, in fields far beyond engineering and science — from political science and linguistics to anthropology and the arts — there are burgeoning opportunities for current and future research to benefit from advanced computational knowledge and capabilities. The college aims to empower researchers to lead in such research in computer science, AI, and across a broad range of disciplines. Their discoveries will leave an indelible imprint on education, the environment, ethics, design, finance, health, music, manufacturing, policy, security, transportation, and more.
At the same time, computing and AI are increasingly woven into every part of the global economy, and the digital portion of the economy has been growing much faster than the whole.
Building on these trends, the college will strengthen computing studies and research across MIT’s many areas of excellence, and in turn shape the direction of computing research and education through insights from these fields.
In February 2019, MIT announced the appointment of Dan Huttenlocher SM ’84, PhD ’88, as the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing’s inaugural dean. A seasoned builder and leader of new academic entities, most recently Cornell Tech in New York City, Huttenlocher assumed his post in August 2019.
To help launch the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, MIT held a three-day celebration, drawing experts on artificial intelligence, machine learning, ethics, education, and more. Headliners for the events, held on February 26-28, 2019, included Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, New York Times columnist and author Tom L. Friedman, and Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and a visiting innovation fellow at MIT.
Shortly after the announcement of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, an extensive planning process to design the college followed with the formation of a task force, the development of a strawman organizational plan, the reorganization of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and many meetings with groups across campus to gather information and solicit feedback.