I'm back in the office after last week's stint at GECCO. Trying hard to hold on to the sense of mind-expanding excitement that I got from the talks and the excellent tutorials. I learnt that:
- I really like the theory side of things - seems like my PhD training hasn't entirely left me
- That it is possible for robots to learn their body plans and adapt when damaged
- That a novel way of evolving Neural Nets, based on Gene Regulatory Networks, leads to an excellent Nothello player
- That it is [PDF] possible to evolve cool towers - but that a smaller genome seems to be better when it comes to trying to transfer between environments.
It's also time to start looking for new jobs as my the current contract is rapidly drawing to a close. A funding proposal I've been working on alongside, let's call him "possible future boss" (PFB), went in last week. I'm more excited, and less sanguine, than I was even for my Viva.
Just before the proposal was submitted, I was invited to PFB's group meeting: some of the PFB's PhDs and postdocs were also at GECCO and related events, so discussions (and cakes) were in planned. I felt like I was going to an interview, or at least the parts of the interview that everyone claims aren't an interview but you know are really. I have links with someone in the group already, so I thought that it was important to prove that I wasn't just going to play well with my "special friend", that I could actually work with the whole team. As soon as the meeting started I realised that wouldn't be a problem: the group is stuffed with brilliant, argumentative, interesting, insatiably curious people. And I don't think any of them read this blog, so I promise I'm not sucking up.
Afterwards, I had a final proof read of the proposal before submission (my first late night at the office!) and was struck again by the fact that it would be a fantastically exciting project to work on, and that I had just met an excellent group of people that I'd be thrilled to work with. But it's out of our hands until the reviews come in. The committee that will decide my fate don't meet 'til November, so I won't know if the money's ours until January. Waiting is the hardest part.
 In fairness, getting on top of a new discipline's literature in my spare time was the hardest part - but the waiting is a close second.