As machine learning breakthroughs abound, researchers look to democratize benefits

From left, Microsoft researchers Robert Schapire, John Langford, Alekh Agarwal, Siddhartha Sen and Jennifer Wortman Vaughan. Credit: John Brecher When Robert Schapire started studying theoretical machine learning in graduate school three decades ago, the field was so obscure that what is today a major international conference was just a tiny workshop, so small that even graduate students were routinely excluded. Machine learning still isn’t exactly a topic of discussion at most family dinner tables. But it has become one of the hottest fields in computer science, turning once-obscure academic gatherings like the upcoming Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems in Barcelona, Spain, into a sold-out affair attended by thousands of computer scientists from top corporations and academic institutions. “It’s been really something to see this field develop, and to…


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