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How One Remarkable Encounter Led to a $500M Pledge in AI How One Remarkable Encounter Led to a $500M Pledge in AI

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	How One Remarkable Encounter Led to a $500M Pledge in AI

The Unlikely Spark

Stephen Schwarzman, the 77-year-old CEO of Blackstone, a private equity giant, has emerged as a leading benefactor of artificial intelligence (AI) research and education. His contributions to this field have surpassed half a billion dollars.

What Happened: Schwarzman’s interest in AI was sparked by a chance conversation with Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba, during a bus ride in Beijing in 2015. Ma discussed the potential of AI in various industries, including drug development and education, which intrigued Schwarzman, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Since then, Schwarzman has become a significant individual contributor to AI research and education, pledging over $500 million. His donations have funded the establishment of the Schwarzman College of Computing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities at Oxford University.

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Despite being a prominent figure in the world of finance, Schwarzman has been an advocate for AI in Washington. He played a role in the passing of the Chips and Science Act of 2022, which allocated substantial funding for AI and quantum computing.

“I was concerned that the U.S. was falling behind on the most promising new technology in generations,” Schwarzman said, according to the report.

Schwarzman interest in AI was further piqued during his visits to China, where he observed the rapid adoption of AI technology. This, coupled with his discussions with L. Rafael Reif, the former president of MIT, led to his substantial donations to AI education and research.

Implications and Beyond

Why It Matters: Schwarzman’s philanthropic efforts in the AI sector are noteworthy, given his background in finance. This move is in line with his previous bold decisions that have contributed to Blackstone’s growth into a trillion-dollar entity.

Despite Schwarzman’s age, he continues to be a major player in the world of finance. In 2022, he received over $1 billion in income, a testament to his ongoing influence in the industry.

His commitment to AI is also evident in Blackstone’s business strategies, such as the $7 billion data center alliance with Digital Realty Trust, aimed at powering the future of cloud and AI.

Moreover, Schwarzman’s commitment to AI extends beyond philanthropy. He has also encouraged the use of AI within Blackstone, hiring data scientists to analyze data and inform investment decisions.

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Photo by WEF on Flickr

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