“CORPORATE conferences still suck.” So read the T-shirt sported by Ben Recht, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, as he collected an award at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference this week. Dr Recht, pictured above in lecture mode, was protesting against the flood of corporate money pouring into NIPS, aping the words Kurt Cobain wrote on a T-shirt when he appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1992.
“It’s not an academic conference anymore,” Dr Recht says wistfully, perched on the steps of the Long Beach Convention Centre. He complains that folk would rather go to corporate-sponsored parties these days (Intel’s featured Flo Rida, a rapper), than poster sessions. AI, it seems, is the new rock and roll.
NIPS began in 1987 as a humble little conference on an obscure branch of machine learning called neural networks.
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