The 17 AI and ML conferences you should attend in 2019
AI is as hot as a laptop with a broken fan—so scorching that some conferences promise to exclude recruiters. As such, there are plenty of organizations motivated to share AI and machine learning information. This overview aims to help you identify the conferences that are worth your time and meet your needs.
At first glance, you could use a background in data mining just to sort through all the events that have “artificial Intelligence” in their titles or include AI conference tracks. I winnowed down the offerings based on the quality of speakers, attendees, and networking opportunities. However, your own needs are the ultimate filter: Are you a programmer looking to increase your skills? An executive looking for competitive insights? A researcher looking to share ideas? A tech recruiter looking for prospects? A prospect looking to dodge recruiters? Some conferences are large and multifaceted enough that nearly anyone can get something out of them. Others appeal only to researchers in subspecialties.
The list below aims to give you enough details to make an informed decision. It is ordered by date, with gold stars for the conferences I think merit close attention. The conference list starts in late 2018, in part because few organizations have published details about fall 2019 events; the coming-soon events provide enough information for you to decide whether they should be on your schedule for next year.
Packing your bags
If you’re concerned about cost, note that conferences often have exhibit-only rates and student or job-seeker discounts. In addition, the public lobby of the headquarters hotel can be a free extension of the conference itself—a place where you can prearrange meetings and also do some serious networking. (As for party crashing, no tips—you’re on your own.)
And while there may be some irony in attending a face-to-face conference filled with discussions on building better chatbots, the opportunity to meet people from a wide range of institutions, companies, and disciplines makes it worthwhile. Every conversation you have in a hallway can turn into its own mini-panel session with experts who would normally never cross paths. If your manager protests the expense, you could remind her that wasn’t the possibility of serendipitous, creative interactions exactly why you’re stuck—er, thriving—in an open office?
O’Reilly Artificial Intelligence Conference
Cost: Only London prices are currently listed. They range from £149 (US$200) for a Pavilion Pass to £2,695 (US$3,500) for a Platinum Pass, which covers the full conference plus small-group training.
Discounts: Alumni, user and meetup groups, company team, government, academic staff, academic instructor, full-time student, nonprofit
O'Reilly's legendary status among geeks (we mean that in a nice way!) continues with its Artificial Intelligence Conferences (co-sponsored with Intel AI), which feature speakers such as Yangqing Jia, director of engineering for Facebook’s AI platform team; Christine Foster of the Alan Turing Institute; and PyTorch evangelist Mo Patel.
Despite O’Reilly’s programming pedigree, the conferences appeal to a range of participants, offering MBA-friendly tracks such as the AI Business Summit to discuss AI implementations in the enterprise and code warrior tutorials like "Building deep learning applications with Amazon SageMaker." At the London conference, Google Cloud Platform and the TensorFlow team will present four days of education focused on TensorFlow and machine learning.
With speed networking sessions and lunch topic tables, the conferences should offer great opportunities for exchanging ideas and contacts.
RE.WORK Women in AI dinners
Cost: Varies; average seems to be $95 (early bird) to $150 (full price)
RE.WORK has gone from a small events organizing company to a global leader in deep learning and artificial intelligence summits, according to its founder, Nikita Johnson. As a woman-led company, it is dedicated to helping advance women in the field. To that end, RE.WORK organizes Women in AI dinners, which feature a speaker lineup of female AI experts. While these sold-out events are often colocated with other RE.WORK summits (see full lineup here), some are run independently. The dinner attendance isn’t restricted by gender but is limited to about 80 attendees, which encourages networking opportunities during the champagne reception and three-course dinner. Notably, recruiters are excluded, which should help keep discussions technically focused.
RE.WORK AI for Government Summit
Dates and location: October 25-26, 2018, Toronto
Cost: CAD 2,495 (US$1,920)
Discounts: Student/academic passes, nonprofits, and government institutions
Colocated with RE.WORK’s Toronto Women in AI Dinner and Deep Learning Summit, this event focuses exclusively on AI’s potential to increase efficiency and reduce cost for government services, which makes it an excellent choice for those working in the public sector. The speaker lineup tilts Canadian but still features experts from across the globe, including Chris Calabrese, vice president for policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, and Anton Prokopyev, a data scientist at the World Bank.
AI Frontiers San Jose
Dates and location: November 9-11, 2018, San Jose, CA
Discounts: Students and job seekers
The AI Frontiers Conference announces its intentions and importance in its choice of keynote speaker: Ilya Sutskever, founder and research director of OpenAI. This three-day conference is designed to deliver the latest breakthroughs and trends in AI to practitioners, academics, businesses, and startups, with a technical emphasis.
Among the highlights: Google Cloud Platform will present full-day training on image understanding with TensorFlow. Udacity will offer a condensed version of its three-month natural language processing nano-degree program. The training touches upon text processing, feature extraction, topic modeling, and NLP with deep learning.
The Machine Learning Conference
Date and location: November 14, 2018, San Francisco
Cost: $300 and up
The Machine Learning Conference has academic roots, growing out of Carnegie Mellon’s GraphLab team. It’s now an agnostic event devoted to discussing the latest machine learning research. In San Francisco, that research will include geospatial data, cancer metastasis detection, and natural language processing challenges. Additional one-day events take place in different cities; you may want to organize one in your hometown.
MLConf also ran The AI Conference, which was focused on topics in artificial general intelligence and combined technical presentations with law, ethics, safety, and governance topics, but so far there’s no updates on a 2019 version.
AI and Big Data Expo World Series
Cost: Free for expo; $1,449 for Ultimate Pass (£1,449 and €1,449 for European events)
Discounts: Early bird and pre-conference
These are classic big, loud, work-the-floor, go-to-the-parties conferences, each promising in excess of 10,000 attendees. In addition, in each host city, the AI and Big Data Expo is colocated alongside the IoT Tech Expo (the largest global gathering for the Internet of Things sector), the Blockchain Expo, and the Cyber Security and Cloud Expo. With hundreds of speakers and exhibitors and more than a dozen A-list sponsors, they’ve got something for everyone…except introverts.
The exhibit floor and some topic tracks are free, so definitely check it out if you’re near a host city.
AI World Conference and Expo
Dates and location: December 3-5, 2018, Boston
Cost: $1,295 to $2,195; expo pass is $299
Designed for business and technology executives, AI World is a three-day event that attracts more than 3,000 attendees. Its tracks cover AI implementation in various sectors, with a heavy emphasis on healthcare and biotechnology, as befits the Boston area. New ideas take center stage with presentations from the XPrize Innovation Program, the AI Startup Pavilion, the AI Startup Awards, and AI in Canada, showcasing Canada’s position as a hotbed of AI tech.
Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems
Dates and location: December 3-8, 2018, Montreal; December 8-14, 2019, Vancouver
Cost: 2018 sold out; 2019 TBD
NIPS is the Comic-Con of AI conferences. Both sellout events contain plenty of longtime veterans who are stunned by the growth in attendees. Back in the day, NIPS was so small that most of the presenters and attendees knew each other, from having published in then-novel academic disciplines such as neural networks and computational neuroscience. These days, they can barely find each other in a crowd of more than 7,000 at this must-attend academic conference, which includes recruiters from major tech companies luring graduates with six-figure starting salaries. As of this moment, the 2018 conference is sold out, but you can add your name to the waiting list.
NIPS is colocated with the Women in Machine Learning Conference (WiML), but the conference registrations are separate. (WiML is updating registration details; check its website for additional information.) All WiML conference speakers and poster presenters are women; men are welcome to attend. Just like NIPS, this is a highly technical conference, so your comfort level depends less on your gender and more on your familiarity with topics like Bayesian nonparametrics.
Global Artificial Intelligence Conference
Dates and location: January 6-11, 2019, Santa Clara, CA; based on past listings, other cities may be scheduled throughout 2019
Cost: $1,499 for all three days
The domain globalbigdataconference.com, the sponsoring organization for the Global Artificial Intelligence Conference, was registered by an entity called Laxmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, a reminder that both AI and big data are the current moment’s gold rush technologies. (Unsurprisingly, Laxmi now also offers a blockchain conference.)
The attendee list for its recent Boston conference included executives and data scientists from companies running the gamut from Accenture to Zynga. The speaker lineup for the upcoming Santa Clara conference includes representatives from academia to industry leaders. There’s a mix of general and technical sessions, with tracks on finance, transportation, healthcare, and others, along with a keynote on AI and cybersecurity.
Based on the locations alone, networking opportunities should be plentiful, although I didn’t see any C-suite speakers listed. Nevertheless, kudos to the organizers for not scheduling the Boston version in January.
AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence
Dates and location: Conference: January 27–February 1, 2019; Workshop January 27-28 (separate registration), Honolulu
Cost: Not listed
The organizers of AAAI are smart. Very smart. They scheduled their 33rd annual conference for late January—in Honolulu. Unfortunately, unless you have a desperate need to understand topics like "Efficient and Scalable Batch Bayesian Optimization Using K-Means," you may have a hard time convincing anyone to send you.
All kidding aside, this is one of the most important academic conferences in the field. It’s also colocated with two other veteran conferences: The 31st Annual Conference on Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence, which runs January 29-31 and focuses on “successful applications that showcase novel uses of AI technology.” The Ninth Symposium on Educational Advances in Artificial Intelligence is January 28-29; its dual focus is teaching AI and using AI to enhance teaching. If you somehow find time, you can bring out your surfboard, although even North Shore waves may seem small compared with the cognitive challenges.
NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference
Dates and location: March 17-21, 2019, San Jose, CA
Cost: $300 (exhibit hall pass) to $2,180; extra cost for workshops
NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference gives attendees pragmatic information on how (and why) to develop high-performance computing solutions, with sessions on artificial intelligence and deep learning, autonomous machines, and virtual reality. For example, you could attend “Accelerate Your Speech Recognition Pipeline on the GPU,” “Accelerating Data Science Workflows with RAPIDS,” or “Applying AI to Customer Service.” There’s plenty of practical information, whether your interests lie in geosciences, medical image processing, virtual reality/augmented reality, or any other area that needs super-fast computation.
In addition to an exhibit hall and (extra cost) hands-on full-day workshops, there’s the daylong Women’s Early Career Accelerator, designed for women getting started in artificial intelligence and deep learning.
Applied Artificial Intelligence Conference
Date and location: April 18, 2019, San Francisco
Discounts: Early bird
BootstrapLabs is a Silicon Valley VC firm focused on applied artificial intelligence. While its conference is aimed across the AI interest spectrum from academics to business executives, it should be especially appealing to investors and entrepreneurs.
The upcoming conference promises deep dives into a number of sectors, including transportation, logistics, healthcare, energy, financial tech, the future of work, and cybersecurity. Among the speakers in 2018 were Kay Firth-Butterfield, head of AI and machine learning at the World Economic Forum; Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovation officer at Accenture; Macario Namie, head of IoT strategy at Cisco; as well as other C-level executives and founders of young AI companies.
This conference may be particularly noteworthy for job seekers. In addition to the career opportunities you’re likely to find at the conference, BootstrapLabs has a page of openings at its portfolio companies.
International Conference on Learning Representations
Twitter: @ICLR18 (not live, but likely it will be @ICLR19)
Dates and location: May 6-9, 2019, New Orleans
Cost: $550 early registration; $825 late registration
You can’t train a computer to distinguish between a bird and a dog unless you’ve translated all those training set images into a form it can read. That’s the fundamental challenge of data representation, the discipline that underlies many of the successes in machine learning and is the focus of ICLR. Here’s a list of just some of the topics to be examined: “unsupervised, semi-supervised, and supervised representation learning; representation learning for planning and reinforcement learning; metric learning and kernel learning; sparse coding and dimensionality expansion; hierarchical models…”
In other words, don’t expect talks from CEOs. This is a hard-core academic conference. But register early—it sells out.
The AI Summit
Dates and location: June 11-13, 2019, London
Cost: £2,499 (US$3,111) for two-day pass; £1,399 (US$1,813) for single-day pass
Discount: Early bird
The AI Summit bills itself as “the world’s largest AI event for business” and has impressive numbers to back its claim: more than 15,000 attendees and 6,000 delegates. Among its 400 speakers are a far larger percentage of European executives than you’re likely to encounter at U.S.-based conferences. Check the AI Summit’s website in the coming months for details on its four incorporated events: the AI Finance Summit, Quantum Computing Summit, AI Customer Summit, and AI Health and Pharma Summit.
Are self-driving Uber Porsches in our future? Last year’s summit included an impressive list of C-suite industry speakers, including Zoubin Ghahramani, chief scientist at Uber, Sven Lorenz, CIO of Porsche, and yes, Hewlett Packard Enterprise's very own chief technologist, Matt Armstrong-Barnes.
AI Toronto/Big Data Toronto
Dates and location: June 12-13, 2019, Toronto
Cost: Practicing professionals $500; solution providers $1,000
Discount: Job-seeker pass
Canada is a world leader in AI research, and AI Toronto, colocated with Big Data Toronto, advertises itself as the largest AI conference in Canada. Based on last year’s information, the June 2019 conference will appeal across the board from executives to developers and likely focus on “technical and practical verticals including use cases around real-time analytics, AI regulations, natural language processing, business automation, customer service automation, machine learning, data visualization, recommendation engines, smart home, and IoT.” Although it likely won’t get as into the weeds as the academic conferences, it does offer sessions that range from primers to master classes.
Of especial interest for some, AI Toronto is looking for post-seed to early-stage startups to pitch their businesses at the AI Toronto Startup Battle.
Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
Dates and location: June 16-21, 2019, Long Beach, CA
Cost: $650 to $1,140
Discounts: Early bird, student
Co-sponsored by the Computer Vision Foundation and IEEE, CVPR is the premier conference in computer vision. It’s a highly technical conference that attracts more than 5,000 people and includes an expo with exhibits from top tech companies. Its hard-core tutorials in 2018 included topics like “A Crash Course on Human,” “Big Data Summarization: Algorithms and Applications,” “Building Deep Learning Applications on Big Data Platforms,” “Computational Imaging for Self-Driving Vehicles,” and “Computer Vision for Robotics and Driving.”
In addition to panels, workshops, tutorials, and demos, the conference features a Doctoral Consortium that pairs students who are close to finishing or have recently finished their doctorate degree with senior researcher mentors. Last year’s conference also had an online job board.
RE.WORK AI for Good Summit
Dates and location: June 20-21, 2019, San Francisco
Cost: Standard $1,495 to $1,995; Startup $895 to $595; Student/Academic $495 to $795
A refreshing break from the all-about-the-Benjamins approach of many larger conferences, the AI for Good Summit allows you to exercise your heart as well as your mind. It explores ways to apply AI to benefit society and tackle global challenges such as the environment, education, healthcare, and sustainability. It’s colocated with RE.WORK’s Deep Reinforcement Learning and Applied AI summits. Let’s stay idealistic and not cynical, even if one of the summit’s most prominent speakers, Daphne Koller, recently quit her position at Calico, Alphabet’s anti-aging lab.
Some conferences aren’t wholly about AI but have technical tracks that may make the event worth considering, especially if they’re local to you. Here are a few that are worth a short description:
- DeveloperWeek: November 6-8, 2019, Austin, TX; February 20-24, 2019, Oakland, CA; New York (2019 not yet scheduled). DeveloperWeek’s three locations include a full day of AI-focused talks and technical workshops. And there’s the popular Hackathon, which offers thousands of dollars to winners in various categories.
- FOCS (IEEE Symposium on the Foundations of Computer Science): October 7-9, 2018, Paris. Contemporary Grace Hoppers, Alan Turings, and Claude Shannons argue in the halls of FOCs. It’s fairly orthogonal to AI, but it’s worth considering attending if the problems you work on require rethinking fundamental computing principles. Judge whether it’s right for you by the papers listed for the 2018 conference.
- Society for Neuroscience: November 3-7, 2018, San Diego, CA. Even neuroscientists are intimidated by this 30,000-plus attendee conference, but since San Diego is home to Terry Sejnowski, one of the early researchers in neural nets and a pioneer of computational neuroscience, it may be worth attending—if you can brave a program so thick it could’ve been written by George R.R. Martin.
Human curation has its limits, especially when there are dozens of conferences organized around research subspecialties. If they appeal to you, you may want to consult some data-mined lists of additional computer vision and machine learning academic conferences.
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This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.