Host a jam site

Become a local organizer for Alignment Jams
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Hosting a jam site

A jam site is a local in-person event for the Alignment Jam hackathons. It allows your local community of machine learning interested engineers and academics to join in a fun event. We deal with all the tough points of a hackathon and you just set up a venue.

You can apply to be a local organizer on each of the hackathon pages under the "Jam sites" tab option, join the hackathon Discord here and write us. More information and answers to all your questions are available in the Discord besides the many pages on this site (click "For organizers" in the navigation bar).

Minimum requirements for a site

  • At least one local official organizer to coordinate the event. The organizer must be a part of the Discord server (for project management and communication).
  • Secure a space (digital or physical) to host your jam site for the duration of the jam. You can choose how small or large you want your event to be depending on the limitations of your venue and how many volunteers you have to support your jammers.
  • Compliance to all Alignment Jam and local regulations with regards to hosting the event.

As an organizer, you don't need research or programming experience as we provide mentorship through the Discord server along with the detailed starter resources, sometimes with videos and walk-throughs.

How does a typical hackathon schedule look?

The core team are available to help in the GatherTown space and on the Discord. Setting up teams can happen in the #searching-for-teams channel on Discord or in-person. The starter resources for each hackathon are available on their pages here on the site. See below.

We start out with a keynote by an expert in the domain of research along with an introductory presentation by our team. This happens on the discord and is live streamed on YouTube. Then we continue into the jam period where anyone can join just for the Saturday, for the whole weekend or whatever fits their schedule.

The schedule itself is a bit different between hackathons but it'll always be around 48 hours of research time. See the example below from the Scale Oversight Hackathon.

Where can I find marketing material?

Take a look on our media page for the latest logos and brand guidelines. Each hackathon also often has media material to work with under the "Jam sites" tab mentioned above.

We encourage you to get creative with your jam site and create posters, t-shirts, websites, banners, mugs - whatever you like! We politely request that you include the Alignment Jam logo, including the Alignment Jam name and listing of or link to the website on any promotional material, digital artifacts and physical object you create in association with your event(s). All brand guidelines and image files you might need can be found on our media page.

How many jammers do I need at my site?

Any number of jammers will do, from 2 to 2000! Running a small jam when you are getting started as an organiser is totally fine. We want as many people as possible to feel confident running a jam site in their location.

Why does my site need to be approved?

The reason that we have an approval process is to make sure we do not get duplicates for the same location, and that the organizers understand Alignment Jam values and responsibilities. We are trying to push for community and collaboration. If you see that a location is already posted in your city, please contact us and we will try to help you collaborate with the other location. You can see a list of approved Jam sites if you visit the hackathon's page.

Can I get funding to run the hackathon?

This was possible earlier but will unfortunately not be available for future hackathons. If you wish to self-fund, we recommend that you send an application for the Long-Term Future Fund for a smaller grant.

Tips straight from other hackathon organizers

  • Book a room in advance through your university or venue organizer. Ideally one with whiteboards and a projector.
  • Get plenty of sleep beforehand so that you can be at your cognitive peak and energize your group.
  • Snack recommendation: Soylent, Larabars / other protein bars, get some fruits (e.g. apples, bananas, clementines)
  • Bring some alignment books and print some Alignment Forum posts to decorate your jam site :))
  • There's flexibility around the time when you start the hackathon (I initially thought I had to start with the live intro talk, which was 11 AM on a Friday in my time zone).
  • People can get their own breakfast, and then during each day you can provide lunches and dinners so that people stay at the jam site.
  • If you also have in-person AGISF groups during the jam, consider meeting with them in the same room as your hackathon (provided that there's enough space). The social proof encourages everyone to think carefully about AI safety during and after the meeting.
  • Send people some materials to study in advance so you don't spend too long deciding on a project or learning prerequisite content. That being said, the jam is a great chance to collaborate if your group needs to understand some concept.
  • Tell people it's ok to nap during the jam -- it probably increases your group's productivity, but people might feel uncomfortable asking to do this.
  • Make a separate channel in your group's Slack/Discord for the hackathon. Post some memes :))
  • Be well prepared and well documented (have a full clear pdf detailing how to get to your site, what times, how to contact organisers)
  • Start the hackathon with everyone presenting themselves shortly, having everyone brainstorm their ideas solo for a while (15 mins?), then everyone submits and discusses ideas publicly, form groups and organize for the hackathon.
  • Start finding people at least two weeks in advance, ideally a month in advance. Search "machine learning engineers" and "data scientists" on LinkedIn and invite them to the hackathon personally.
  • Its probably better to start out small, and advertise to a narrower group of people who are already adjacent to alignment and interpretability.
  • Keep it simple, target communities that could find interest in such event, prepare in advance and support your teams all the way.
  • Find the right people. they will help you with organizing, research, coding and everything.
  • Just do it and have fun
  • Advertise early