From the Director Spring 2018 Issue 44

From the Director

Bob Desimone

At a recent meeting with representatives from a major car company, I learned that great progress has been made on self-driving cars, but cars of the future will need to be “conscious,” or in possession of human-like intelligence. Autonomous cars can successfully navigate most highways, but they have difficulty understanding and predicting the actions of human drivers and pedestrians.

For all the progress AI systems have made in fields like visual recognition and entertainment, AI systems still cannot match human intelligence in many areas, especially when they are faced with challenges that are unpredictable.

Five years ago, my colleague Tomaso Poggio established the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines (CBMM) here at the McGovern Institute, through a grant from the National Science Foundation. Its mission is to better understand the neural basis of intelligent behavior, which could lead to smarter machines in the future.

This February, MIT announced a new institute-wide initiative called the MIT Intelligence Quest, or MIT IQ. Modeled in part on the success of CBMM, MIT IQ is an interdisciplinary effort to bridge human and machine intelligence research and to develop new applications. We look forward to being a part of this ambitious quest.

Finally, it is with great sadness that I share the passing of our longtime friend, Ted Poitras. Ted was a devoted supporter of McGovern research, and he and his wife, Kay, played a key role in supporting some of our major new initiatives. Ted will be greatly missed.

Bob Desimone, Director
Doris and Don Berkey Professor of Neuroscience

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