Sydney to host world’s largest machine learning conference

Sydney has won an international bid to host the largest machine learning conference in the world in 2021.

The Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) has grown each year, attracting about 13,000 machine learning specialists to the event which is taking place in Vancouver, Canada, this week.

CSIRO’s Data61, the data science arm of Australia’s national science agency, led the successful bid in partnership with BESydney with the active support of the NSW Government to bring the conference to Sydney.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) systems are growing exponentially around the world and is estimated to generate $22 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

Dr Richard Nock, head of the machine learning research group at CSIRO’s Data61, said Australia’s strong machine learning research community was fundamental to the successful bid.

“Between our universities and research organisations, Australia is home to world-leading research in machine learning and artificial intelligence,” Dr Nock said.

“This past year, our researchers have applied AI and machine learning to assist in diagnosing complex mental health disorders, detect disease outbreaks and ‘vaccinate’ algorithms against adversarial attacks.

“NeurIPS will bring together thousands of machine learning specialists to share the latest research and discuss key issues including the ethical design and deployment of machine learning and it is a great opportunity for Australia to be at the centre of this conversation.”

Stuart Ayres, NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, said while NeurIPS 2021 would deliver more than $45 million in direct expenditure to the NSW economy, the soft power of attracting such a prestigious event to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time should not be underestimated.

“At a time when our Australian economy is rapidly transitioning, and in a city like Sydney, with its incredible depth of intellectual firepower, NeurIPS 2021 will propel Australia’s research and innovative discoveries to the forefront – bringing with it opportunities for trade and investment and talent attraction as well as helping to build Sydney’s brand as an intellectual capital,” Ayres said.

BESydney CEO Lyn Lewis-Smith said hosting this high-profile global meeting will put Sydney and Australia firmly on the map for this burgeoning field – especially off the back of hosting the successful International Conference on Machine Learning in 2017.

“New skills in AI are in demand globally and demand is outstripping supply – this is where global meetings can support this fast-moving sector,” Lewis-Smith said.

“NeurIPS 2021 in Sydney will attract significant attendance from the big names in technology such as Tesla, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, and representatives from world-leading universities who will meet with their Australian counterparts to exchange best practice and potentially collaborate on their efforts.”

Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, president of the NeurIPS Foundation, which organises the global meeting each year, said NeurIPS is the world’s largest AI/ML conference, attracting over 10,000 attendees and continuing to grow at a high rate.

“Bringing the NeurIPS conference to Australia is a significant step as it will be the first time in our history we are coming together in the Asia-Pacific region,” Dr Sejnowski said.

“This is part of our ongoing mission to bolster the global community of AI and machine learning researchers and create opportunities for them to continue to connect in new ways and new places, especially locations like Australia where there is growing interest and investment in this important field of technology.”

This will be the third time the conference has taken place outside North America, after Granada and Barcelona hosted NeurIPS in 2011 and 2016 respectively.

NeurIPS will take place at International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) in November 2021.