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Two departments team up to study human and artificial intelligence

The bachelor of science in computation and cognition (Course 6-9), approved by the faculty in April 2019, is designed to help students explore how the brain produces intelligent behavior and how it can be replicated in machines.

“The 6-9 major fulfills a growing educational need at the intersection of cognitive science, neuroscience, and computer science,” says James DiCarlo, BCS department head and the Peter de Florez Professor of Neuroscience.

It’s an incredibly exciting time for students to be educated in the foundations of these efforts and to participate in shaping the future of the science and engineering of intelligence.” Both DiCarlo and EECS department head Asu Ozdaglar noted that 6-9 also reflects Institute-wide enthusiasm for interdisciplinary initiatives such as the Quest for Intelligence and the new MIT Stephen A.

Anyone seeking to do novel research in artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning will find it helpful to know “both how machines work and how humans make decisions and learn,” says Dennis M.

“Both perspectives are critical to transformational advances.”   'There’s a lot of shared interest around emerging new fields at the intersection of AI and cognitive science and of machine learning and brain science,” says Michale S.

The new major is expected to attract about 50 students annually, based on a survey of students already enrolled in BCS subjects focused on human cognition and computation, such as 9.66 (Computational Cognitive Science).

“There’s a big commercial push for these skills,” Freeman adds, noting that many of the methods used to help computers conduct “thinking” tasks — such as recognizing faces, driving cars, and even diagnosing diseases — are based on knowledge obtained studying humans.

“I think we’ve got a really great curriculum that provides that flexibility.” Freeman says the new major should prove a boon for students who might otherwise have double-majored in EECS and BCS, because few of the requirements of established majors overlap.

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