Helping students of all ages flourish in the era of artificial intelligence

A new cross-disciplinary research initiative at MIT aims to promote the understanding and use of AI across all segments of society. The effort, called Responsible AI for Social Empowerment and Education (RAISE), will develop new teaching approaches and tools to engage learners in settings from preK-12 to the workforce.

“People are using AI every day in our workplaces and our private lives. It’s in our apps, devices, social media, and more. It’s shaping the global economy, our institutions, and ourselves. Being digitally literate is no longer enough. People need to be AI-literate to understand the responsible use of AI and create things with it at individual, community, and societal levels,” says RAISE Director Cynthia Breazeal, a professor of media arts and sciences at MIT.

“But right now, if you want to learn about AI to make AI-powered applications, you pretty much need to have a college degree in computer science or related topic,” Breazeal adds. “The educational barrier is still pretty high. The vision of this initiative is: AI for everyone else — with an emphasis on equity, access, and responsible empowerment.”

Headquartered in the MIT Media Lab, RAISE is a collaboration with the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing and MIT Open Learning. The initiative will engage in research coupled with education and outreach efforts to advance new knowledge and innovative technologies to support how diverse people learn about AI as well as how AI can help to better support human learning. Through Open Learning and the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL), RAISE will also extend its reach into a global network where equity and justice are key.

The initiative draws on MIT’s history as both a birthplace of AI technology and a leader in AI pedagogy. “MIT already excels at undergraduate and graduate AI education,” says Breazeal, who heads the Media Lab’s Personal Robots group and is an associate director of the Media Lab. “Now we’re building on those successes. We’re saying we can take a leadership role in educational research, the science of learning, and technological innovation to broaden AI education and empower society writ large to shape our future with AI.”

In addition to Breazeal, RAISE co-directors are Hal Abelson, professor of computer science and education; Eric Klopfer, professor and director of the Scheller Teacher Education Program; and Hae Won Park, a research scientist at the Media Lab. Other principal leaders include Professor Sanjay Sarma, vice president for open learning. RAISE draws additional participation from dozens of faculty, staff, and students across the Institute.

“In today’s rapidly changing economic and technological landscape, a core challenge nationally and globally is to improve the effectiveness, availa


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