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Fujitsu Laboratories and MIT’s Center for Brains, Minds and Machines broaden partnership

New investment supports intelligence research, student fellowships.

Students from many universities collaborate on intelligence problems at the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines summer course in August 2018. Photo: Kris Brewer

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. and MIT’s Center for Brains, Minds and Machines (CBMM) has announced a multi-year philanthropic partnership focused on advancing the science and engineering of intelligence while supporting the next generation of researchers in this emerging field. The new commitment follows on several years of collaborative research among scientists at the two organizations.

Founded in 1968, Fujitsu Laboratories has conducted a wide range of basic and applied research in the areas of next-generation services, computer servers, networks, electronic devices, and advanced materials. CBMM, a multi-institutional, National Science Foundation funded science and technology center focusing on the interdisciplinary study of intelligence, was established in 2013 and is headquartered at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research. CBMM is also the foundation of “The Core” of the MIT Quest for Intelligence launched earlier this year. The partnership between the two organizations started in March 2017 when Fujitsu Laboratories sent a visiting scientist to CBMM.

“A fundamental understanding of how humans think, feel, and make decisions is critical to developing revolutionary technologies that will have a real impact on societal problems,” said Shigeru Sasaki, CEO of Fujitsu Laboratories. “The partnership between MIT’s Center for Brains, Minds and Machines and Fujitsu Laboratories will help advance critical R&D efforts in both human intelligence and the creation of next-generation technologies that will shape our lives,” he added.

The new Fujitsu Laboratories Co-Creation Research Fund, established with a philanthropic gift from Fujitsu Laboratories, will fuel new, innovative and challenging projects in areas of interest to both Fujitsu and CBMM, including the basic study of computations underlying visual recognition and language processing, creation of new machine learning methods, and development of the theory of deep learning. Alongside funding for research projects, Fujitsu Laboratories will also fund fellowships for graduate students attending CBMM’s summer course from 2019 to contribute to the future of research and society on a long term basis. The intensive three-week course gives advanced students from universities worldwide a “deep end” introduction to the problem of intelligence. These students will later have the opportunity to travel to Fujitsu Laboratories in Japan or its overseas locations in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Spain, and China to meet with Fujitsu researchers.

“CBMM faculty, students, and fellows are excited for the opportunity to work alongside scientists from Fujitsu to make advances in complex problems of intelligence, both real and artificial,” said CBMM’s director Tomaso Poggio, who is also an investigator at the McGovern Institute and the Eugene McDermott Professor in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. “Both Fujitsu Laboratories and MIT are committed to creating revolutionary tools and systems that will transform many industries, and to do that we are first looking to the extraordinary computations made by the human mind in everyday life.”

As part of the partnership, Poggio will be a featured keynote speaker at the Fujitsu Laboratories Advanced Technology Symposium on Oct. 9. In addition, Tomotake Sasaki, a former visiting scientist and current research affiliate in the Poggio Lab, will continue to collaborate with CBMM scientists and engineers on reinforcement learning and deep learning research projects. Moyuru Yamada, a visiting scientist in the Lab of Professor Josh Tenenbaum, is also studying the computational model of human cognition and exploring its industrial applications. Moreover, Fujitsu Laboratories is planning to invite CBMM researchers to Japan or overseas offices and arrange internships for interested students.

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