Co-chair and present at the RaD-AI workshop: ✅ Done
After 6 months of planning, it finally happened. I arrived at the ExCeL conference center in the morning and met some of my co-chairs: Reuth, David Aha and Kantwon Rogers. There were about 7 other workshops happening side-by-side with ours, each workshop being assigned a different room.
We set up some of the logistics as people slowly began gathering. There were about 30 people all in all. I gave my talk, which went smoothly. The Q&A session was a little nervous for me, but I didn't embarrass myself. Joel Leibo gave a talk as an invited speaker, so I introduced him and managed his Q&A session. I was a bit shy about that, because I've never done the "I'm honored to introduce our next speaker, so-and-so who is widely known for having done such-and-such" bit.
The talks were interesting, and I'm likely to continue co-chairing this workshop next year as well.
Attend AAMAS: ✅ Done
AAMAS started with a reception in the evening, right after the RaD-AI workshop was over. After 8-10 hours of talking about research at the workshop, I was done. I love research... But that really is a full work day for me. At the reception, they gave out "free" alcohol. I downed a glass of wine with Kantwon, and I was helping myself to a beer. I assumed that everyone was as done with research as I was.
Not so. I found Edgar excitedly talking to three grad students. He was explaining about the major transitions of evolution, a monumental book that I have previously given up on after 10 pages. People in other circles were also still talking about research. I'm trying to kill brain cells here, and people are still spreading knowledge.
This became a theme for the rest of the conference: Most of the attendees' capacities and patience for talking about research far outweigh my own.
The reception was on the second day out of five. Not everyone stayed for the entire five days, but I figured since I came all the way to London, I'm going to tough it out. I did, and it was so difficult. This isn't an AAMAS problem, it's a me problem. The way that academics present their research is difficult for me to digest. The general narrative is similar to that of talks in industry conferences: They present some problem, existing solutions, issues with the existing solutions, their new solutions, how it works, advantages and disadvantages, etc. But the way that problem and solution are formulated are just so foreign to me.
I'm hoping that with more practice, I'll be happy to get the hang of it.
Here's a video of stroll through the poster session.
Have fun at Lisbon: ✅ Done
I said I'll try staying at a youth hostel, hoping I'm not too old to be sharing a room with a bunch of people. I got cold feet and went to a hotel instead. I guess I am too old for hostels after all.
Lisbon was okay, though not so different from eastern Europe, and much more expensive.
The highlight of the Lisbon trip was that I went and did a 5 minute set at an open mic standup event (Photo). I've been wanting to do standup for years now, but it's so scary. It was easier to do it abroad, because I knew that if I made a fool of myself, no one will know about it. Maybe I could do this in Israel now too.
It's interesting that standup, academic talks and tech talks are all different forms of public speaking. We put them in mental categories that are so far away from each other, but the basic premise of "person talks to crowd" is, in my opinion, the salient one. For that matter, this mailing list isn't too far from public speaking; I guess it can be called "public writing".