Pirate Swing
March 1 - 3, 2019 ~ Ann Arbor, MI

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Picture

Is alcohol allowed at Pirate Swing?

Alcohol is not allowed at Pirate Swing. Our venues include University property and a facility associated with a child care provider - alcohol is not ok! We reserve the right to remove people from the event without refund if they violate this policy. Please don't jeopardize our ability to hold Pirate Swing in the future.

Is local housing available for Pirate Swing?

Yes, but Pirate Swing has grown large enough that we can no longer promise housing to everyone. If you have the financial ability to do so, please consider getting a room at a hotel (see next question).

The registration form will indicate when housing is full, so you will have that information before you complete registration. Those who apply for housing but do not pay in a reasonable amount of time will be dropped from the housing list to make room for others.

Is there a local hotel?

We have secured a group rate at the Red Roof Inn of $67.99 plus tax per night (normally $79.99). This hotel is very close to our venues (about 5 minutes from the Dance venue). The rooms have two queen beds, and this rate is good for up to 4 people. The rate is reduced by $4.25 per person fewer than 4.

The address is: 3505 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI

The phone number is: 800-733-7663 and our group code is: B693PS0228. You MUST book by February 1st to get this discount!

I can provide housing to out of town guests, what do I do?

Please select that you can provide housing when you register. If you can provide housing but will not be attending, please email us at housing@pirateswing.com.

What is the nearest airport, and how can I get transportation to the workshop?

The closest airport is Detroit Metro Airport (DTW). The Michigan Flyer offers $12 each way fares between the airport and Ann Arbor. The Kensington Court Hotel is 1.8 miles from Concourse Hall, and would be the best location to shuttle to.

I can no longer attend, what can I do?

Pirate Swing counts on your payment to make the event happen, so we are unable to offer refunds. We are happy to help arrange a pass transfer on a case by case basis.

Please contact us so we can help you if you are no longer able to attend.

I want to come, but I'm broke! Can you help?

Pirate Swing now offers 2 and 3 month payment plans, to help spread out your registration cost. Additionally, you might consider a paid staff position. You can see our volunteer page for more information.

What happened?

None of this was intended.

Maybe you read The Handmaid’s Tale in school? Where all the books were taken away, and replaced with just one book. Or Fahrenheit 451, where they were burned. Well, the books weren’t exactly taken away, but they were buried. Replaced with so many, many others that offered nothing. It was funny at first, when it was just the recipe blogs that were obviously written by chat bots. They said things that were obviously fake, like “boil water 3 times.” Somewhere along the way, someone decided to feed great classics into autoencoders to distill the stories to their purest essence. It’s hard now to find a real copy of Huck Finn, or “I know why the caged bird sings,” or… well, anything written by humans.

The chatbots got better and people started using them more, as you do. People are lazy. In the service industry, to replace tech support. In the newsroom, to write articles. Drafts of homework papers, Masters’ theses, academic papers. Policies. Laws. Supposedly just the drafts, but people got kind of lax about fact-checking the drafts. Everything was going so well. The scientists had fixed all the obvious errors. Somewhere at the bottom of a pile of policies, everything is based on a reference to a bot’s hallucination that doesn’t really exist.

The affliction wasn’t confined to the written word, but included images too, of course. At first we were in that uncanny valley where you could tell the pictures were fake: Too many fingers, too many teeth, something fundamentally wrong about the angle of the elbows. But of course the bots got better, and generated more content, and now you have to assume that everything you see on the internet is fake. The dating sites are particularly ridiculous - just a bunch of bots regurgitating memorized pickup lines. Maybe creating new lines every now and then when a pseudorandom number generator has a lucky day.

None of this was intended.

None of it “meant” anything. That’s what so many early dystopian stories got wrong - the AI was never sentient. Just very good at using learned patterns to create realistic media. Humans did the rest. They read the AI-generated stories and revised classics. Chatted with the bots. Taught the generated curricula. Followed the generated laws.

We knew we couldn’t trust anything on the internet, and some people thought that would ensure everything would turn out ok. Then bureaucrats got the bright idea of using bots to generate the daily emails at all the government agencies. Someone probably got an award or got promoted for that one — using machine learning where it had never been used before! (Without stopping to think about whether there was a reason for that). Not to mention the savings in personnel. We thought at least the emails from our leadership would be written by our leadership (that is, by a human on their staff)!

I guess where it started to go really wrong was the reinforcement learning systems. They used to just play each other in StarCraft and come up with bizarre strategies that never would have occurred to humans. But they started to play off each other in unhealthy ways, and they were playing in the real world instead of StarCraft. As the bots got used more and more, people got more and more polarized, and their language got more violent, which of course fed back into the bots. Because of how all the systems played off each other this led to more aggressive news articles. Then calls to join the army. Then the war. Bots on both sides issued declarations almost simultaneously (the slight lag might just have been due to clock differences).

None of this was intended.

But the soldiers and generals followed their bot-generated orders, with their conventional weapons and baby AI drones. And here we are.

Physical space is a mess. No one wants to be out there for long. The internet still exists, in patches. Most of the content is still leftover from the bots. I don’t know why I’m even bothering to put this here, on this tiny bit of the internet that I still control. It’s just another piece of data that might as well be written by a bot.

I wrote the first draft of this on paper. I don’t expect you to believe me.