Meeting Notes from April 15, 2019

In attendance:

  • Andre
  • Svetlana
  • Terrence
  • Matt
  • Eric
  • Sam
  • Daniel
  • Gilles
  • Zachary
  • Bradley
  • Gunnu
  • Henry
  • Rida

Student outreach

Andre suggested that we maintain a student outreach program.

Project sandbox

Rida suggested a Project Sandbox idea, where we maintain a list of potential and active projects that members can work on, collaboratively or separately.

Project showcase

Garrett mentioned the idea of showcasing member projects. This could be as simple as an “awesome” list of links and GitHub projects that we maintain.

GitHub vs Airtable vs ???

We talked about how to organize the work. Rida recommended that we look at Airtable as a less technical option to using GitHub.

There seemed to be a general comfort level starting with GitHub, under the premise that ML is a technical field and members, esp organizers, will already be familiar with using GitHub for managing source code and related issues.

Joint meetups

Andre strongly +1ed joint meetups observing that they are always better attended and better.

Garrett suggested that we, as a rule of thumb, host at least one joint meetup per month.

Chicago ML should maintain a “Friends of Chicago ML” (or similarly named) list, which includes meetups that we have or would like to have joint meetings with.

Suggested meetups:

  • Chipy
  • PyData
  • AWS Chicago
  • R User Group
  • Big Data Developers
  • PyLadies
  • R Ladies
  • Women Who Code
  • Chicago AI Days (related meetups)
  • CJUG
  • Chicago Hack Night
  • Chicago Public Data
  • People of Color Code

Garrett notes

We could potentially list every technical user group in Chicago! I’d be concerned that we’d have more groups listed than we could possibly work with. The important part is to actually have joint meetups - so if a group is listed we should in contact with its organizers in planning an upcoming event.

Food and beverage

There seemed to be a general consensus that it’s a lot better to provide food at meetups than not to.

Garrett notes

I’d say let’s leave this as a “nice to have” rather than a “critical” feature :) It substantially complicates event logistics and of course cost.

Most of all, let’s see how it goes. But I would prefer to not have this as a mandate for our events.

Non-meetup affiliations

In addition to building ties to other meetups (see above) we discussed forming relationships with various Chicago area groups.

Some mentioned:

  • IIT Center for Corporate Performance
  • Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (not sure if this is right - Eric?)
  • Center for Data Science and Public Policy (was not mentioned but is on Garrett’s list of similar orgs to contact)
  • CFA Society Chicago

Community outreach

Terrence suggested that we look into ways to serve a broader Chicago community with introductory events. These would assume no particular background and be geared for anyone interested in learning more about machine learning and AI.

Garrett notes

Some topics:

  • What is machine learning?
  • Ethics and AI
  • AI in support of community

Chicago ML - backwater?

Garrett referred to Chicago as a backwater for ML, which he then retracted after a number of org members listed Chicago’s strengths!

In particular:

  • Financial markets - widespread stats and data science
  • Insurance - very strong data science and ML, active in AI applications
  • Pharma - strong analytics and stats

ML programs

We discussed the value of listing industry ML programs on the website. We noted that entries should be supported by the companies themselves (we can maintain the content via GitHub) to ensure that we are representing them as they would prefer.

Academic programs

We discussed the desire to list Chicago area (could be midwest as well) ML educational programs.

Speaker recruiting

We discussed various approaches for findig potential speakers for Chicago ML events.

  • Look for local area researchers who are presenting at conferences and invite them to present their paper as a trial run at a meetup

  • Researchers who have noteable papers

  • People from ML industry programs

  • Speakers presenting at other ML/AI events

Lots more approaches! E.g. a “call for presenters”.

Garrett notes

We also have a web form for submitting ideas - this is listed on chicago.ml at top right.

Calendar of events

It’d be nice to maintain a list of events somehow on chicago.ml - beyond our own events.

Public datasets

We discussed listing public datasets and using them for inspiration for projects. This is related to the project sandbox idea (see above).

Sources mentioned:

  • NORC - National Opinion Research Center

Kaggle competitions

Mention of tying Kaggle into our project sandbox concept.

City of Chicago

We discussed the idea of building ties with the City of Chicago.

Daniel suggested reaching out to the people behind the Amazon bid.

Call for Code

Call for Code was mentioned as a source of project ideas.