Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

MIT wants to build an AI that’s as smart as a child

February 1, 2018

Researchers at MIT will explore the fundamentals of human intelligence in order to build AI systems that learn like babies.

The news: The university has announced Intelligence Quest (or MIT IQ), a new institute-wide initiative to learn more about human intelligence and create new AI-based technologies.

The goal: No specific projects were announced. But Anantha Chandrakasan, the dean of MIT’s School of Engineering, says the plan is to try to “reverse-engineer human intelligence.” In the longer term, says Josh Tenenbaum, an MIT professor of cognitive science and computation, the aim is to build “a machine that learns like a baby and then a child.”

Why it matters: Right now, a three-month-old baby is smarter than any AI. So if it works, the research could provide a whole new class of machine intelligence that could change nearly every industry. And MIT has over 200 world-leading experts in disciplines like AI, cognitive science, and neuroscience—so it has as good a shot as anyone at making it happen.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build

“I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things are going to be more intelligent than us.”

Deep learning pioneer Geoffrey Hinton has quit Google

Hinton will be speaking at EmTech Digital on Wednesday.

The future of generative AI is niche, not generalized

ChatGPT has sparked speculation about artificial general intelligence. But the next real phase of AI will be in specific domains and contexts.

Video: Geoffrey Hinton talks about the “existential threat” of AI

Watch Hinton speak with Will Douglas Heaven, MIT Technology Review’s senior editor for AI, at EmTech Digital.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.