Introducing Access to {AI} Conference, November 12-13 2015

Access to {AI}

And now for something completely different - I’m hosting a conference in the November 12-13th in Mountain View, California called Access to {AI}.

The goal of the conference is to have experienced practicioners of Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, and Artificial Intelligence introduce the techniques and tools they use everyday to programmers who’ve never done any of that before.

If you’re a TL;DR; sort of person, just click here to register for updates about Access to {AI}.

Why is this important? Well…

Breaking into advanced fields is hard

I first learned how to do distributed computing in college, and I was overwhelmed learning the strange new lexicon that came with it. I barely knew how to write C++ and C#, even though I had spent thousands of hours doing both prior to coming to college. And I had to learn about “consistency,” “wire formats,” “serialization,” and dozens of other concepts that were completely alien to me even as someone who’s been programming since age 10.

Thankfully, I had great professors and other people who could help teach those concepts to me - and even with their help it still took me years of practicing on my own to really “get it.”

But what if you or I need to learn an advanced field like AI or machine learning on the job today? How are we going to learn that technology’s lexicon, algorithms, frameworks, and best practices completely on our own? What about the underlying math involved - is that something we’ll need to know too?

Now imagine that English isn’t our first language; we’re almost entirely self-taught programmers; and never went to college. The barriers for entry for these technologies start to look really intimidating!

What if we did something extraordinary to introduce programmers who have no background in these areas a boost… What if we held a conference where professionals who use these advanced technologies every day in production got together and shared their experiences with beginners? That’s exactly what we are doing with Access to {AI}.

What if all developers could use AI, machine learning, or any other advanced field as readily as web programming?

When someone posed the following question to me, I committed to the possibility inherent in the answer.

What would our world look like if every programmer could put advanced technologies like AI, machine learning, distributed systems, concurrent programming, and others into action as effortlessly as web programming? What types of software would the average developer produce then?

The answer is obvious: we wouldn’t recognize the world we live in if this was already possible, because the average piece of software produced would enable computers to do orders of magnitude more work for people than they do today.

And yet, the reality is that this can easily be possible - but it will require us to do something really different in our advanced computer science fields: actively make these technologies more accessible to developers who are self-taught, haven’t gone to college for CS, or have otherwise not had access to these technologies before.

And that is why we are putting on Access to {AI}. Through this conference we want to connect developers who have no background in AI or machine learning to experts who use it every day.

Access to {AI} is a conference by experts for beginners - a rare opportunity in tech conferences.

Why AI and machine learning?

Of all of the advanced fields within computer science, why did we pick Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning as the first subject for an Access to {_} conference?

Because I personally don’t know it and neither do the other organizers. We’re experienced professionals in distributed computing and other advanced fields, but none of us collectively have much experience with AI or Machine Learning.

And we’re exactly the sort of people we intend to empower through Access to {AI} - largely self-taught programmers who’ve never been immersed in AI before. If we can get it, then everyone can.

We intend to host a series of Access to {_} conferences on different areas over time, but we’re starting with one where we’re the customer too - so we can gauge for ourselves how effectively this format gives us access to technologies we’ve had trouble picking up on our own.

I am requesting your help

I want you to help me stand for the possibility of giving every programmer access to AI, machine learning, and every other advanced technical field in computer science. Through this work we can create a world where every programmer has access to tools and technologies that will make them individually more powerful and expressive.

Here’s how you can help realize this possibility:

Attend or Register for Updates

Easy, right? Buy a ticket to Access to {AI} OR register for updates about Access to {AI} here.

Conference will be held at Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus from November 12th, 2015 through November 13th.

Submit a Talk

We have some amazing AI and ML experts lined up to speak already, but we are looking for more!

If you’re interested in sharing your expertise and giving programmers access to your world as an experienced AI or machine learning professional, fill out our Access to {AI} Call for Presentations Form and get involved!


We’re looking for more volunteers to help with reviewing CFP proposals, scheduling, promoting the conference, and lots of other things stuff! Conferences are a lot of logistical work and organizing them is great growth opportunity for programmers.

If you want to get involved as a volunteer, send us an email at

Help Promote Access to {AI}

The easiest thing you can do to help is to let your friends know about it!

You can start by mentioning Access to {AI} on Twitter!

And you can follow Access to {AI} on:

Reminder: Access to {AI} is on November 12-13 in Mountain View, CA, at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley Campus! Buy a ticket to Access to {AI} OR register for updates about Access to {AI} here.

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I'm the CTO and co-founder of Petabridge, where I'm making distributed programming for .NET developers easy by working on Akka.NET and Helios.

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