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Mission, Vision, and Values

The Kempner Institute seeks to build a community of scholars who work across boundaries and fields and are poised to solve some of the most compelling mysteries of our time. Coming together to learn, collaborate, and discover – Kempner Institute members are scientists who seek to fundamentally and radically advance our understanding of Natural and Artificial Intelligence.

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The mission of the Kempner Institute for the Study of Natural and Artificial Intelligence at Harvard University is to understand the basis of intelligence in natural and artificial systems. The Institute will strive collectively to reveal the fundamental mechanisms of intelligence, endow artificial intelligence (AI) with features of natural intelligence, and apply these new AI technologies for the benefit of humanity.

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The Institute will recruit and train future generations of researchers to study intelligence from biological, cognitive, engineering, and computational perspectives.  It will elevate Harvard University’s standing in AI to the top ranks while expanding the national capacity to nurture new talent and develop expertise in a critical area of science and technology. Thus, the Institute will:

  • Advance a fundamental and unified understanding of the nature of intelligence that has evolved in organisms and can be engineered in silico
  • Train the next generation of researchers to work collaboratively across disciplines and to become versed in relevant areas of computational theory, AI and machine learning (ML), neuroscience, and cognitive science
  • Translate theoretical advances to the development of next generation AI systems with qualitatively better capabilities for deeper reasoning and more efficient use of data
  • Use knowledge gained from the study of AI systems to explain how the brain processes information, computes, learns and guides action
  • Contextualize research via application challenges from complex domains of importance to humanity
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Kempner Institute members are expected to model and support the following:

  • Rigor in thought and research
  • Constructive collaboration and community building
  • Diversity
  • Inclusivity, respect, and honesty in communication and action
  • Curiosity to discover, connect, and understand
  • A commitment to make the world a better

The Institute was launched in December of 2021, funded by a $500 million gift from Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg and announced by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The institute’s name honors Zuckerberg’s mother, Karen Kempner Zuckerberg, and her parents — Zuckerberg’s grandparents — Sidney and Gertrude Kempner.

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Science and Engineering Complex
150 Western Avenue, Allston, MA

Questions? Email Kempner Institute