As a growing list of research universities enter into an agreement to help Facebook develop new technologies, Penn remains absent from the list.
According to Inside Higher Ed, 30 institutions have now signed up to be part of the Sponsored Academic Research Agreement — SARA — as of this May. The list includes many of Penn's peers, such as Harvard University, Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Cornell University.
Announced in Dec. 2016 with an initial roster of 17 universities, the agreement allows projects to be initiated within weeks or days, according to TechCrunch. This enables Facebook to jump-start projects without lengthy waits for approval. The projects will reportedly take place in Facebook's Building 8, its special research lab for the development of of hardware projects.
TechCrunch added that universities will be paid a fee by Facebook.
“With the SARA, B8/Facebook has created a universal agreement with terms that are project-by-project and designed to be fair and appropriate for universities," Facebook's Building 8 director Regina Dugan told TechCrunch. "All university partners sign the same agreement, allowing Facebook to build the relationships quickly, and at scale.”
According to Inside Higher Ed, one current projects associated with Building 8 is the development of brain-computer interfaces to turn thoughts into text.
However, when contacted by Inside Higher Ed, universities have been staying silent on what the collaborative projects entail. One of the original 17 institutions, California Institute of Technology, told Inside Higher Ed that they did not have any active projects under the agreement at this time.
Previously, Facebook has provided universities with servers to investigate artificial intelligence, according to TechCrunch. Per Facebook, the company is currently working with more than 100 universities on research collaborations.
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