IBM has donated $240 million to MIT for a new joint laboratory to research artificial intelligence, instantly producing one of the richest academic-industry efforts in the world. Anantha Chandrakasan, MIT's new dean of engineering, told Axios that the 10-year IBM grant is the result of discussions that began only in the summer, and will result in the establishment of the MIT–IBM Watson AI Lab.

The lab, to involve more than 100 AI scientists from both IBM and MIT, will conduct fundamental research and encourage faculty and students to spin out companies from discoveries they develop.

The lab's establishment comes amid an AI research-and-commercialization frenzy at universities, in Silicon Valley and in tech companies around the world, all attempting to capture part of what is seen as an inflection point in the next economy — the shift to intelligent products. In 2015, for instance, Toyota announced more than $1 billion in funding for its own center, plus research at both MIT and Stanford.

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Congress' next moves to rein in Big Tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

After grilling the CEOs of Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple last week, members of Congress are grappling with whether to accuse any of the firms of illegal anticompetitive behavior, to propose updating federal antitrust laws — or both.

The big picture: Congress is just one arm of government making the case against these companies. Google is expected to be the first of the firms to face possible antitrust litigation from the Justice Department before summer's end, but all four face a full-court press of investigations by DOJ, the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general.

Fauci: Coronavirus task force to examine aerosolized spread


A sneeze. Photo: Maartje van Caspel/Getty Images

The White House coronavirus task force will examine more closely just how much SARS-CoV-2 might be transmitted via aerosols, and not just from droplets, NIAID director Anthony Fauci said Wednesday at an online forum sponsored by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Why it matters: The longer the coronavirus can remain infectious in the air, the more likely it can infect people, particularly indoors — leading to the possible need to alter air filtration and circulation within buildings.

The next wave to hit Main Street

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Call it the great retail wash. A wave of defaults, bankruptcies and evictions expected in cities across the U.S. is poised to remake the retail landscape across the country, but there may be some upside for consumers and small businesses.

Why it matters: Rather than an overnight descent into a collection of urban wastelands full of Starbucks, Amazon fulfillment centers, Chase bank branches and nothing else, the coronavirus pandemic and resulting retail apocalypse may just mean that, in major U.S. cities, less is more.