The recent recognition of three MIT affiliates by the Schmidt Futures Initiative highlights the importance of interdisciplinary research in addressing complex societal challenges. The awards received by MathWorks Professor Jörn Dunkel, professor of computational cognitive science Josh Tenenbaum, and associate professor Surya Ganguli demonstrate the value of innovative, highly interdisciplinary research in fields such as biology, physics, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence.
In the case of Professor Dunkel, his work on self-organization processes in biological and physical systems exemplifies the potential for mathematical models to bridge seemingly disparate systems and predict emergent dynamical behaviors. This approach not only contributes to our understanding of complex systems but also has the potential to inform strategies for addressing environmental and public health challenges.
Similarly, Professor Ganguli’s research in neuroscience, machine learning, and physics has the potential to advance our understanding of how biological and artificial neural networks learn and process information. This work is essential for developing more efficient and sustainable technologies, as well as for addressing environmental and societal challenges.
Finally, Professor Tenenbaum’s interdisciplinary research in artificial intelligence has the potential to shape the development of AI for societal benefit. By seeking to reverse-engineer intelligence in the human mind and brain, and using these insights to engineer more human-like machine intelligence, he is contributing to the responsible and ethical advancement of AI technologies.
The recognition of these MIT affiliates by the Schmidt Futures Initiative serves as a reminder of the importance of supporting and fostering interdisciplinary research to address complex global challenges. Their work not only contributes to scientific knowledge but also has the potential to drive positive environmental and societal impacts.