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AI Weekly: NeurIPS proves machine learning at scale is hard


The world's largest AI research conference is underway in Vancouver, Canada. Researchers are presenting more than 1,400 papers at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) conference, ranging from work that organizers believe has had the greatest impact over the past decade to Yoshua Bengio's continued march toward consciousness for deep learning. But even as the conference showed theoretical research and neuroscience-related papers on the rise alongside categories like algorithms and deep learning, the mushrooming of the event itself -- and the associated growing pains -- was a constant theme, and it speaks to the growth of the AI field in general. Organizers said that at the start of the conference Sunday, they expected about 400 people to show up for registration. All told, NeurIPS 2019 welcomed 13,000 attendees, up 40% from the prior year.

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NeurIPS 2019 was with around 13,000 attendees the largest ML conference of the year. The NeurIPS 2019 Program Chairs did a fantastic analysis of the reviewing process. NeurIPS has no free-loader problem: Most of the authors of submitted papers participate in reviewing. It is still unclear how to filter papers before the full review. Review quality (as measured by length) is not lower compared to smaller conferences.

Canada refuses visas to African AI researchers


For the second year in a row, Canada has refused visas to dozens of researchers - most of them from Africa - who were hoping to attend an artificial intelligence (AI) conference in Vancouver. The hassles have caused at least one other AI conference to choose a different country for their next event. The Neural Information Processing Systems conference (NeurIPS), which brings together thousands of experts and researchers from all over the world, will be held in Vancouver next month. Last week, NeurIPS began hearing that several attendees had had their visas denied. It was the second year in a row the conference has had visa troubles.



To ensure fairness in access and to guarantee that contributors are able to register. Last year, tickets to the Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) Annual Conference sold out in under 12 minutes. With sales opening in Pacific time, this short window of availability created challenges for participants from Eastern time zones, people with slow internet connections, and students who had to take the extra time to upload their student IDs. This year, NeurIPS registration will change from the prior first-come-first-served model to a randomized lottery. In addition, some tickets will be held back from this lottery to ensure authors of accepted papers and those creating content for and around the conference are able to attend and take part in the event that their thought leadership is helping to create.

Canada Welcomes AI--But Not All 'Black in AI' Workshop Guests


On Thursday in Montreal, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau boasted about his country's leading position in artificial intelligence and openness to international collaboration. A few miles away, the world's largest AI conference proceeded without scores of researchers denied visas by Trudeau's government. All week, Montreal has played host to 8,000 people attending the NeurIPS conference, which ends Saturday. But well over 100 researchers with tickets to attend the event or its associated workshops, including many who planned to present work, are absent due to visa denials or delays. AI researchers say the visa problems undermine efforts to make their field more inclusive, and less likely to produce technology that discriminates or disadvantages people who aren't white or Western.