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Kempner Institute Makes Initiative for Neuroscience

The Kempner Institute for the Study of Natural and Artificial Intelligence, a new University-wide initiative at the intersection of neuroscience and artificial intelligence, was launched on Tuesday at Harvard University, with the goal of uncovering fundamental principles that underpin both human and machine intelligence. The benefits of discoveries will flow in both directions, improving our understanding of how humans think, perceive the world around them, make decisions, and learn, and thereby propelling AI forward.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative announced a $500 million grant from Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg to fund the institute on Tuesday. The contribution will fund ten new professor positions, major new computing equipment, and resources that will allow students to move freely between labs in search of new ideas and knowledge. The institute is named after Zuckerberg’s mother, Karen Kempner Zuckerberg, and her parents, Sidney and Gertrude Kempner, who were Zuckerberg’s grandparents.

In the past, Chan and Zuckerberg have generously supported Harvard students, staff, and researchers in a variety of areas, including public service, literacy, and cures. The Kempner Institute at Harvard represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring together approaches and expertise in biological and cognitive science with machine learning, statistics, and computer science to make real progress in understanding how the human brain works in order to improve disease treatment, develop new therapies, and advance our understanding of the human body and the world in general.

“Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg have shown a remarkable commitment to encouraging science, innovation, and service at Harvard and other academic institutions across the country,” Bacow added. Their sponsorship for the Kempner Institute is merely the most recent example of how they have tried to further Harvard’s educational and research missions.

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