Research

Thousands of AI researchers are boycotting a science journal

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Thousands of AI researchers are boycotting a popular science journal for a decision they believe is harmful to advancing developments.

Science journal Nature recently announced it will be launching a dedicated section of its online publication to machine learning in January, 2019. That would normally be welcome, except the section is set to be put behind a paywall.

Naturally, many AI researchers took umbrage at the plans. Much of the community are fierce advocates of open research — both to improve advancements in the field, and to help ensure the development of safe and ethical standards.

Thousands of researchers, including some of the most famous names and companies, will not submit any of their work to Nature’s machine learning section in protest. One famous AI researcher, Professor Tom Dietterich from Oregon State University, published a statement on the university’s website condemning the move.

In his statement, Dietterich highlights a mass resignation letter back in 2001 from the editorial board of the Machine Learning Journal. The editors resigned en masse to form a new zero-cost open access journal, the Journal of Machine Learning Research (JMLR).

Quoting from the 2001 resignation letter:

“…journals should principally serve the needs of the intellectual community, in particular by providing the immediate and universal access to journal articles that modern technology supports, and doing so at a cost that excludes no one.”

Furthermore, Dietterich notes most of the major machine learning outlets — including NIPS, ICML, ICLR, COLT, UAI, and AISTATS — do not charge for access to, or the publication of, AI papers.

As of writing, the petition against the move has 2,366 signatories. This includes some of the most recognisable names in AI research such as Ian Goodfellow of Google and Yann LeCun of Facebook.

You can add your signature here if you also believe AI research should be open.

Do you agree with the AI researchers? Let us know in the comments.

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