Communicating with our Community and the World for NeurIPS 2020

Katherine Gorman, Collective Next

Michael Littman, Brown University

The conference is here and we’re very excited to bring you a fantastic experience! For the past couple of years the conference has started to think more actively about how it can communicate both with the public and with the attendee community, we wanted to bring you a quick peek into how those efforts have evolved.

One of our major efforts this year has been this very blog! We hope it’s giving you all a chance to see into the workings of the organizing committee and to better understand the decisions that they made and how they got made.

This is the first year that our vetted pool of journalists who cover the topic of machine learning and artificial intelligence professionally will be able to attend all parts of the conference including the tutorials and the workshops. We’re very excited about the openness of the conference and our ability to communicate the reality of the research within our own community and to the wider world.

For the second year in a row, NeurIPS is contracting with a Public Relations firm. This year, our partner is the firm Interprose. A typical goal of PR firms is to help an organization build a brand and visibility with the public. That’s not NeurIPS’s goal. In the case of the conference, public visibility came suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly. Our reason for working with a professional PR firm is that they have experience monitoring and managing crises — situations in which the conference has attracted negative attention perhaps due to a policy error or a mistake in judgment or even a simple misunderstanding. NeurIPS’s mission is to support the broader research community understanding “neural information processing” — the question of how simple computational units go about representing and transforming information. At some level, this topic is esoteric and academic. But, as we know, information processing is at the center of many core societal activities and neural networks have grown dramatically in their inference. The conference is continually making efforts to improve how it serves the research community and its broader impacts. We’re very happy to be working closely with Interprose on this important objective.

Will also be hosting a Town Hall for the third year in a row on Thursday of the week of the conference. This is a great opportunity for the NeurIPS community to talk about the conference itself: how we can change and how we can be better. Throughout the week, we’d love to hear your questions. Please email them to Townhall@NeurIPS.cc. During the Town Hall, we will take questions that we received earlier and will also take live. We will hold two sessions of the Town Hall — one at 4 AM PST and one at 4 PM PST in the attempt to make it as accessible as possible for all attendees, globally.

For the first time, our program chairs will be communicating with the attendees throughout the week — look for updates and other bulletins as the conference unfolds.

We are looking forward to an amazing week of communication and collaboration and discovery and we can’t wait to see you all, virtually at least, at this year’s NeurIPS Conference.

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