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AOL, Cornell Tech and City Officials Launch Laboratory in NYC



The Computer Science Faculty building, named after Taub, in the Technion Institute for Science, Haifa, Israel. Taken on Oct. 30th, by Beny Shlevich. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

Global Partnership Extends to the Technion in Israel

On November 12, AOL, Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, and senior New York City economic development officials announced the formation of the Connected Experiences Laboratory. The laboratory will explore and create technologies at the forefront of the digital ecosystem – including analytical techniques that fuse diverse personal data streams into actionable insights; content personalization that works across delivery platforms; and connectivity tools that deepen and sustain engagement within families and communities. The Connected Experiences Laboratory will innovate the way we live.

The collaboration brings together in a four year partnership two institutions that are central to the NYC tech scene, AOL as a pioneering media technology company headquartered in NYC and Cornell Tech as the new flagship university campus for digital technologies. Moreover, building on the international reach and span of both organizations, the collaboration will extend to the Technion, with part of the gift supporting activities there in coordination with AOL Israel.

A first collaboration of its kind for Cornell Tech and AOL, the AOL gift will allow researchers at Cornell Tech and at the Technion in Israel to address a varied set of areas including communication and coordination, food and wellness, education and safety, information and entertainment. The research will catalyze the use of data to make choices about behaviors, content and products, enhance and support our connections to the people closest to us, and help create ties that empower and build local communities.

The partnership with AOL will allow Cornell Tech and Technion researchers access to resources — platforms and engineering and product knowledge — that is not readily available in academic settings,” said Dan Huttenlocher, Dean of Cornell Tech. “We see this not just as a one-way gift, but a beginning of a collaboration that will set new standards in how industry and academia work together to make the world better and advance the New York tech scene.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Jacobs Institute, Cornell Tech and Technion, home to some of the worlds’ best researchers and innovators,” said Bill Pence, AOL’s Chief Technology Officer. “Cornell Tech’s grounded, human-centered approach to developing cutting-edge technologies and systems aligns perfectly with the heart of AOL’s strategy where Culture Meets Code. Through the formation of the Connected Experiences Lab, we want to explore the future of technologies that provide essential services and content to users around the world, and develop a roadmap to align with their practices, needs and motivations.”

The AOL gift will support a multinational laboratory for Connected Experiences, or ConnX, over four years. A fellowship program will support graduate students at each locale, and help the research activities of faculty in each location, 50% of them female. “Diversity should be top of mind for every tech organization, academic or otherwise,” said Mor Naaman, Associate Professor at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, CoFounder, ConnX Lab. “We are designing new technologies that would be used by a population that is 50% female. It is only appropriate that the research team reflects that ratio.” The breadth of the support will allow researchers at Cornell Tech and The Technion to pursue research in diverse topics, including human computer interaction, computer vision, machine learning, natural language processing, and social computing across multiple disciplines: computer science, management science, electrical engineering, information science and more.

The Cornell Tech lab will also include full-time engineers and designers, in addition to faculty, PhD students and postdocs. “To build meaningful technologies and improve the likelihood of impact, we need people in-house that can design and build systems, moving early research prototypes into the real world,” said Deborah Estrin, a member of the Cornell Tech faculty and co-founder of the ConnX lab. “This is a highly unusual and unique approach, and one that will have tremendous and quickly-realized impacts on the industry at large.”

“The announcement of this gift, and the cutting-edge research it will enable, underscores New York City’s position as a global hub of talent and innovation,” said Kyle Kimball, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “We applaud AOL and Cornell Tech for uniting to pioneer new technologies while seeking to enhance the lives of families and communities. The vision for the City’s Applied Sciences Initiative is to create a new generation of engineering talent, productively linked to the world’s foremost digital companies. Through the Connected Experiences Lab this comes to life.”

The faculty in the new ConnX lab will include Shiri Azenkot and Serge Belongie at Cornell Tech; and Anat Rafaeli, Nir Ailon and Roi Reichart at Technion.

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