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NeurIPS Requires AI Researchers to Account for Societal Impact and Financial Conflicts of Interest


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The Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) conference.

For the first time ever, researchers who submit papers to the Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) conference must state the potential broader impact of their work on society, as well as any financial conflict of interest.

Credit: Khari Johnson/VentureBeat

For the first time ever, researchers who submit papers to NeurIPS, one of the biggest AI research conferences in the world, must now state the "potential broader impact of their work" on society as well as any financial conflict of interest, conference organizers told VentureBeat.

NeurIPS is one of the first and largest AI research conferences to enact the requirements. The social impact statement will require AI researchers to confront and account for both positive and negative potential outcomes of their work, while the financial disclosure requirement may illuminate the role industry and big tech companies play in the field. Financial disclosures must state both potential conflicts of interests directly related to the submitted research and any potential unrelated conflict of interest.

NeurIPS 2020 communications chair Michael Littman told VentureBeat in an email that the "ethical aspects and future societal consequences" statements will be published with each paper. However, they'll appear only in the camera-ready versions of the papers so they do not compromise the double-blind nature of the reviewing process.

Research with potential ethical concerns will be given special consideration. "Reviewers and area chairs' assessment will be done on the basis of technical contributions only. However, if a paper is flagged for potential ethical concerns, then the paper will be sent to another set of reviewers with expertise in ethics and machine learning. The final acceptance of these papers is contingent on the positive assessment by these second set of reviewers as well," Littman said.

 

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