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AI Partnership: Make It Easier for Experts to Attend Conferences

By / Sep 11, 2019 (PeopleImages/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

The Partnership on AI has released a policy paper recommending legal measures—including new visa laws—that would allow experts in the artificial intelligence field to more easily travel to in-person meetings.

Don’t let the name fool you: In the field of so-called artificial intelligence, real people need to share real knowledge to advance this rapidly developing technology. And an organization working on collaboration in AI is making the case that those people need to be able to cross borders to meet in person.

The Partnership on AI this week called on governments around the world to create a new class of visa for experts in artificial intelligence and machine learning so they can easily attend conferences wherever they’re held. In a new policy paper, the partnership wrote:

PAI believes that bringing together experts from countries around the world that represent different cultures, socio-economic experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives is essential for AI/ML to flourish and help create the future we desire. In order to fulfill their talent goals and host conferences of international caliber, countries around the world will need to devise laws, policies, and practices that enable people around the world to contribute to these conversations.

PAI said the policy recommendations were “developed to help advance the mobility of innovative global AI/ML talent from a variety of disciplines” but added that they “are in no way intended to minimize or replace opportunities for those affected by the ongoing immigration discussions and policymakers’ actions.”

Due to challenges with visas, some recent AI conferences have been held in parts of the world that are less common destinations for international meetings. Last year, after researchers from African nations faced obstacles to attending events in Canada, the International Conference on Learning Representations announced that it would hold its 2020 event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, rather than in Europe or North America.

In a news release, Dr. Brian Green, director of technology ethics at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, said travel hurdles may prevent full participation in global discussions about artificial intelligence.

“It is tremendously important to have international scholars be able to meet in person to discuss issues in technology ethics, especially in AI, which is transforming the world so rapidly,” Green said. “Visas have supported these meetings.”

Several tech giants—including Apple, Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft—are members of the Partnership on AI, which was founded in 2016. However, it also includes a number of smaller players and some nonprofits and associations, among them the American Psychological Association, the Center for Data Innovation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Software.org, and UNICEF.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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