Sydney’s machine learning sector gains international recognition

Australia’s world-leading work in machine learning has helped it secure the Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) in 2021. 

The event is the largest and most prestigious machine learning conference in the world, attracting about 13,000 machine learning specialists to the 2019 event in Vancouver, Canada.

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 New South Wales (NSW) Government.

Dr Richard Nock, head of the machine learning research group at CSIRO’s Data61, said: “Between our universities and research organisations, Australia is home to world-leading research in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“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.”

As well as highlighting the country’s strength in this burgeoning field, it is hoped that hosting the event will also attract more talent to the growing sector.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) systems are growing exponentially around the world and is estimated to generate AU$22.17 trillion to the global economy by 2030. The Australian Government’s Artificial Intelligence Technology Roadmap, developed by Data61, identified Australia’s need for up to 161,000 new specialist AI workers by 2030.

Stuart Ayres, NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, said: “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.”

Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, President of the NeurIPS Foundation, agreed that it was a “significant step” bringing the conference to Australia. It will be the first time NeurIPS is held in the Asia-Pacific region, and only the third time it has been held outside North America.

He added: “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.”

CEO of BESydney, Lyn Lewis-Smith said hosting this high-profile global meeting will help put Sydney and Australia firmly on the map in machine learning, particularly after it hosted a 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,” she 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.”

NeurIPS will take place at the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) in November 2021. It is expected to deliver more than AU$45.2million in direct expenditure to the NSW economy.


(via BE Sydney, NeurIPS)