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Andrew Ng and other speakers at the NeurIPS 2019 conference

Dear friends,

I’ve been reflecting on the NeurIPS 2019 conference, which ended on Saturday. It’s always a wonderful event, but this year I found it a bittersweet experience.

Bitter because the conference has grown so much that we no longer focus on a handful of ideas. I missed the feeling of a community coming together. I was excited about the progress in self-supervised learning. Others were buzzing about Bayesian networks and causality, federated learning in healthcare applications, or using DL to predict biological sequences such as proteins. These are fascinating areas, but it’s clear the AI community no longer marches to only one beat.

The sweet part is that NeurIPS is growing up. As Karen Hao wrote in MIT Technology Review, NeurIPS has matured from a venue with great science, hard partying, and wild dancing into a forum with great science and a focus on using AI for good. The AI community is getting better at

diversity, inclusion, and taking responsibility for our actions, though there’s still room to grow.

As part of the panel during the climate change workshop, I spoke about the importance of building an actionable ethical code for AI. Ideally written by the AI community, for the AI community. You can hear my remarks on that subject here at 1:15.

It was great fun speaking on the panel with Yoshua Bengio, Jeff Dean, Carla Gomes, and Lester Mackey. Thanks to David Rolnick, Priya Donti, Lynn Kaack, and others for organizing the great workshop.

Keep learning!



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