International machine learning experts will present the latest theories and practices in deep learning and its applications at the Deep Learning Indaba to be held at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) from September 10 to 15.
More than 300 attendees from Africa and around the world will participate in the five-day machine learning event, which will bring experts in the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence to Johannesburg. The event focuses on deep learning, a type of machine learning that uses deep neural networks, which are the basis of recent advances in text-to-speech systems, language translation and object recognition.
The Indaba aims to create a shared space to learn, teach and debate new developments in machine learning and artificial intelligence, as well as African contributions to these scientific endeavours, says UK artificial intelligence company DeepMind research scientist Dr Shakir Mohamed, who is the indaba lead organiser and a Wits alumnus.
“Beyond the technical exchange, the Indaba will create opportunities for new research connections, foster a better understanding of the variety of career paths in the field and, through new perspectives and backgrounds, take the steps to realising a more diverse, representative and multicultural machine-learning community.”
The event is an important opportunity to create a network of skilled individuals to solve problems and create new industries. Remarkable centres of industry mushroom around strong, forward-looking research institutions, such as Wits, avers applied mathematician and Wits Dean of the Faculty of Science Professor Ebrahim Momoniat.
DeepMind lead research scientist and Wits alumnus Nando de Freitas will present a tutorial on aspects of convolutional neural networks, with particular focus on the subfields of neural networks, Bayesian inference and optimisation, and deep learning.
Further, Brown University assistant professor and Intelligent Robots Lab director George Konidaris will speak on reinforcement learning, one of the topics in machine learning that addresses how artificial intelligence agents can learn from experience.
Wits School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics lecturer Dr Richard Klein will speak on recurrent neural networks. “My primary interest is using machine learning and computer vision to support education and teaching endeavours. Using machine learning to visually understand how an audience is reacting to a speaker can help improve the quality of presentations and assist lecturers and presenters in connecting better with their audience.”
Given the increasing focus on machine learning, the Indaba aims to stimulate the participation of Africans in the research and innovation landscape surrounding deep learning and machine learning. “There are many pressing challenges facing Africa, and connecting with others throughout Africa and abroad helps the flow of knowledge and solutions,” adds Momoniat.