MIT center grabs $25M grant to build human-like computers

An artificial intelligence effort at MIT has scored a $25 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), funding work to build computers with human-like capabilities.

The Center for Brains, Minds and Machines (CBMM), based in Cambridge, MA, is one of three new centers to win funding from the NSF's Science and Technology Centers Integrative Partnerships, the agency said. Led by Tomaso Poggio, the Eugene McDermott Professor of Brain Sciences and Human Behavior at MIT, the center is expected to include faculty from MIT, Harvard and other top institutions.

The MIT center also supports President Obama's new BRAIN Initiative. The President announced the initiative in April with a $100 million commitment in his fiscal 2014 budget, aiming to pave the way to breakthrough treatments for brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury.

With input from neuroscientists, electrical engineers and other experts, the MIT center has ambitious goals to understand how intelligence works in the brain and reproduce the functions in computers. The CBMM has allied with a crowd of industry partners, including Google ($GOOG), Microsoft ($MSFT), IBM ($IBM) and 6 smaller companies in the tech and AI arenas.

"We know much more than we did before about biological brains and how they produce intelligent behavior," Poggio said, as quoted in an article from MIT. "We're now at the point where we can start applying that understanding from neuroscience, cognitive science and computer science to the design of intelligent machines."

- here's the NSF's release
- and the article from MIT