Announcing TITS 2017

The (un)official sister event to NIPS

The last two years have proven to be breakthrough years for Artificial Intelligence. With AI hitting mainstream news and amassing more capital, there is more hype and attention than ever before. But beyond the recent interest, for more than 30 years the pinnacle conference for the AI community has been ‘NIPS’ conference, which stands for ‘Neural Information Processing Systems’.

The registration for NIPS has blown up following AI’s burgeoning popularity, with full attendance tickets (if you can get them in time) costing around $600 for the full week.

NIPS is your traditional academic conference with workshops, tutorials, presentations and poster sessions. At the end of each day, corporates battle it out with different social events — enticing researchers to drink their way into reconsidering their current career position and joining them.

If you haven’t been to an AI social event, consider this picture: Despite having plenty of $$$, corporates will hire a small-ish venue somewhere near the conference, where you’ll find hundreds of AI researchers (mainly dudes in start-up t-shirts) crammed around the bar area trying to use up their sparse drink tokens.

Last year, a bunch of friends across different AI groups got together one morning during NIPS to plan a party for a joke AI company launch. For all the press attention we got for piercing through the AI hype bubble, one of the best things that came from the Rocket AI event was a legitimately fun social event centered around the community. There was no agenda, no corporate sponsors, no ‘you can’t come here if you work for Y’. The money for the event came from a group of friends wanting to host an event for all their other friends, old and new. There were 200 people, all from the same industry, all working on similar problems, coming together to hang. The drinks were endless; the conversations were overflowing; the atmosphere was perfect and the laughing didn’t stop until 2am (…when the cops came).


Our Inspiration: DEF CON

In 1993, a hacker named Jeff Moss decided to throw a farewell party for a fellow hacker friend. At the last moment, his friend had to depart earlier than expected, leaving Jeff with an entirely planned party and now no specific purpose to host. So Jeff did what any fun person should do and decided to invite all his hacker friends to go to Las Vegas and have the party anyway. People came from all over the globe for his random event. This was the foundational event for DEF CON, which is now the world’s largest hacker convention with over 22,000 attendees. DEF CON is unlike most tech events — the atmosphere is electric, the space is highly-curated and the community comes together to ensure that the surprises, events and mischief are endless. The secret sauce is that DEF CON was never started as a conference or convention, it was started by the community just wanting to have a good time.

We have a similar vision for TITS.

If you’re particularly politically correct and wincing at the name ‘TITS’, recall that ‘NIPS’ is not much better. In fact, one could say you can’t have NIPS without TITS. If you’re worried that the name TITS reinforces the male stereotype in the tech community, take comfort in knowing that this event is organized by a team of 70% females, and the fact that both sexes have TITS. We believe revolutions start with humor, laughter and community.

Just like TED has developed an unofficial but much loved sister event BIL (think Bill & Ted!), so too, from 2017, will NIPS have its sister event TITS. TITS will not be about recruitment or competitiveness, it will be focused on passion projects and hobbies themed around machine learning. There will be AI themed art projects and installations, because what could be a better photo backdrop than an entire room of real chihuahuas eating muffins? An algorithm might not be able to tell the difference between the two, but, damn, it’ll make a good selfie.

Our vision of TITS is to become the DEF CON of AI, and by that we mean creating a counter-culture event driven by the community, curated and funded by the community. TITS 1.0 is being held in a 17,000 square foot private mansion in Long Beach, California, near the NIPS 2017 conference venue, a day before NIPS commences. We see this event as a community ice-breaker, because both AI safety and AI progress depend on us working together as a community, not as isolated research groups. Everything is *free*, from the drinks, to the food, to the entertainment, totally funded by individuals from the AI community who wanted to see this event come into existence.

There are 150 golden tickets for TITS. We understand that nothing is real in tech anymore unless it has it’s own cryptocurrency token and we thought it would be both fun and *stupid* to create one, so we have developed a TITS ERC20 Ethereum token that will be allocated to each attendee to serve as a ticket. It serves no other purpose than to allow entry and has no inherent value, just like most things in crypto. All you have to do is provide your ETH wallet address when you apply and you can be a TITS token holder.

For those people who can’t fathom creating an ETH wallet, apply with your email address.

www.tits.ai

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