Ever since the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) 2017 closed last December, there have been discussions about changing the name of the leading AI gathering. A March 2018 letter to the NIPS board from John Hopkins University professors and students called for a name change in order to avoid a “hostile environment” due to the term NIPS being “vulnerable to sexual puns.”
In April the NIPS organizing committee announced that it was considering a name change and began collecting opinions and suggestions from the AI research community.
Yesterday, the final results of the poll were disclosed along with the announcement that there would be no name change:
After extensive discussions, the NIPS Board has decided not to change the name of the conference for now. The poll itself did not yield a clear consensus on a name change or a well-regarded alternative name.
The data collected from the survey shows very limited variance among different groups of participants. The number of respondents who prefer a name change is almost identical to the number who oppose one. Poll results on alternative names are also almost equally distributed, with no single proposal standing out.
NIPS organizers acknowledged that it is necessary to implement more concrete steps to improve diversity and inclusion at the conference, which was the main reason behind the name change initiative. Accordingly, additional efforts will be put into new, substantive diversity and inclusion initiatives this year. For example, two Inclusion and Diversity chairs have been appointed to take responsibility for long-term improvements on inclusion and diversity; and NIPS will provide an onsite childcare service for NIPS 2018 in Montreal, Canada, which runs December 2 – 8.
NIPS has been providing support to the Women in ML (WiML) group for many years. Such support is now being extending to other identity groups such as Black in AI (BAI), Queer in AI@NIPS, LatinX in AI (LXAI), and Jews in ML.
NIPS is arguably the most-discussed academic conference in the AI field this year. Synced previously reported on a contoversy involving using graduate students as a NIPS peer reviewers.
Tickets for the 32nd NIPS 2018 in Montreal sold out in just 12 minutes. Synced will be reporting from the conference throughout the week.
Author: Mos Zhang | Editor: Michael Sarazen