Sounds like the weirdest hackathon you could imagine. The topic is the fruit fly, that's Drosophila melanogaster to you, and specifically its brain. And there is no need to turn up with lots of rotting fruit and a scalpel, this really is software hacking.
One very direct and seemingly simple approach to creating AI is to study natural intelligence. The only problem is that understanding what neural wiring is doing is very very tough. Neurons connect together in very complex ways and they aren't just on or off, but pulse at different rates. In many ways they are like the artificial neurons in neural networks, but in many ways they are not. It is possible to see that they share some characteristics, but we find it hard to unravel what an artifical neural network is doing and a real neural network is even harder.
Over the past few years we have been accumulating lots of data on natural systems, but we don't really seem to have solved the problems of understanding it.
This is where the Fruit Fly Brain Hackathon 2017 comes in:
This hackathon will feature the Fruit Fly Brain Observatory (FFBO) and its key components NeuroNLP and NeuroGFX. The former allows for exploring fruit fly brain data using plain English queries, and the latter facilitates the modeling and execution of such brain circuits.
Brief tutorials will be given on the usage of the FFBO as well as developing new tools/features in FFBO. The hackathon is aimed at three main groups of participants: neurobiologists, modelers and software engineers.
The goal of the hackathon is to bring together these three groups of participants to develop, use and improve the FFBO platform towards developing executable models of the fruit fly brain.
All you need is a laptop - everything else is provided. Docker images and even AWS accounts are available. There is also a workshop that you can attend. It is all free, but of course you have to get there. It is being held at Columbia University, New York on March 12th, 2017.
If you can't make it, the good news is that you can use some of the software on the web. In fact, it would be a good idea to try it out before you commit to the hackathon. All of the software is open source and it is intended that up-to-date code and data will be released during the hackathon.
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