In late 2017, popular scientific journal Nature announced plans to debut a new online publication, Nature Machine Intelligence, in early 2019. The wait is finally over, and the first issue of the online-only journal went live yesterday.
Nature Machine Intelligence (NMI) describes itself as an online-only journal “for research and perspectives from the fast-moving fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics.” An NMI advantage is that it can provide access to research articles weeks before they are typically published in specialized print journals. NMI will publish original machine intelligence research alongside content in a variety of categories including Reviews, Perspectives, Comments, Correspondence, and News & Views. Feature articles meanwhile will address hot topics in the field and spotlight significant advances.
The editorial board outlined the journal’s mission: “Nature Machine Intelligence will endeavour to bring different fields together, forging new collaborations in AI, robotics, cognitive science and machine learning, to further develop visions of intelligent machines that can be of inspiration and use for humanity.”
Although covering ML in a digital journal seems perfectly logical, there were more than a few bumps on the road to yesterday’s launch. Prominent AI people including Yoshua Bengio, Yann LeCun, Gary Marcus, Jeff Dean, Ian Goodfellow, Sergey Levine and others pledged not to submit any papers, reviews or editorial services to Nature Machine Intelligence to protest its revenue model, which charges a paper submission fee and individual and institutional subscription fees.
Thousands signed a petition asserting “We see no role for closed access or author-fee publication in the future of machine learning research and believe the adoption of this new journal as an outlet of record for the machine learning community would be a retrograde step.”
Writing in the Guardian, Professor of Machine Learning at the University of Sheffield Neil Lawrence argued “The [machine learning] community itself created, collated, and reviewed the research it carried out. We used the internet to create new journals that were freely available and made no charge to authors. The era of subscriptions and leatherbound volumes seemed to be behind us. The public already pays taxes that fund our research. Why should people have to pay again to read the results?”
Mindful perhaps of continuing opposition among researchers, Nature has made the first issue of Nature Machine Intelligence available at no cost, and plans to keep the journal free through the remainder of 2019.