ML for the Developing World (ML4D)

NeurIPS 2019 Workshop

Challenges and Risks of ML4D

As the use of machine learning becomes ubiquitous, there is growing interest in understanding how machine learning can be used to tackle global development challenges. The possibilities are vast, and it is important that we explore the potential benefits of such technologies, which has driven the agenda of the ML4D workshop series in the past. However, there is a risk that technology optimism and a categorization of ML4D research as inherently “social good” may result in initiatives failing to account for unintended harms or deviating scarce funds towards initiatives that appear exciting but have no demonstrated effect. Moreover, machine learning technologies deployed in developing regions have often been created for different contexts and are trained with data that is not representative of the new deployment setting. Most concerning of all, multinational companies sometimes make the deliberate choice to deploy new technologies in countries with little regulation in order to experiment.


This year’s program will focus on the challenges and risks that arise when deploying machine learning in developing regions. This one-day workshop will bring together a diverse set of participants from across the globe to discuss essential elements for ensuring ML4D research moves forward in a responsible and ethical manner. Attendees will learn about potential unintended harms that may result from ML4D solutions, technical challenges that currently prevent the effective use of machine learning in vast regions of the world, and lessons that may be learned from other fields.


The workshop will include invited talks, a poster session of accepted papers, breakout sessions tailored to the workshop's theme and panel discussions. We welcome paper submissions featuring novel machine learning research that characterizes or tackles challenges of ML4D, empirical papers that reveal unintended harms of machine learning technology in developing regions, and discussion papers that examine the current state of the art of ML4D and propose paths forward.

We are proud to be part of the ACM FAT* Network!

Key dates

Submission deadline: 11:59PM Pacific Time, September 13, 2019 (Submission site)

Travel award deadline: 11:59PM Pacific Time, September 13, 2019 (Application)

Acceptance notification: September 25, 2019

Workshop: Friday, December 13, 2019

Attending the workshop

All attendees must have a NeurIPS Workshops registration (one registration fee covers all workshops).

Staying informed

If you wish to stay in touch, you can join the ML4D mailing list.

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