So, NIPS 2016, the record-breaking NIPS with more than 6000 attendees, the massive recruiting event, the densest collection of great men with huge egos, whatever you call it.
I gotta write about this. Maybe several hundreds of people will also write something about NIPS, so I would start with something personal, before going to the usual march through papers and ideas, you know…
One of the cool things about this NIPS is I got to listen directly to the very men who taught me so many things during the last several years. Hearing Nando de Freitas talking on stage, I could easily recall his voice, the accent when he says thee-ta () was so familiar. Listening to Rajesh Rao talking, I couldn’t help recalling the joke with the adventurer hat he made in order to “moisturise” his Neuroscience lectures. Sorry professor, nice try, but the joke didn’t quite work.
And of course, Yoshua Bengio with his usual hard-to-be-impressed style (although he hasn’t changed much since last time we talked). Also Alex Graves whose works wowed me so many times.
One of the highlights of the days was Jurgen Schmidhuber, with his deep, machine-generated voice, told a deep joke. The joke goes like this:
Three men were sentenced to death because of the invention of technology that causes mass unemployment in some certain industries. They were a French guy named LeCun, a British guy named Hinton and a German guy named Schmidhuber.
Before the execution, the Death asked them: “Any last word?”
– The French guy said: Je veux … (blah blah, in French, I couldn’t get it)
– The German guy: I want to give a final speech about the history of Deep Learning!
– The British guy: Please shoot me before Schmidhuber gives his goddamn speech!
As some of my friends put it: when he can make a joke about himself, probably he is still mentally healthy (pun intended).