York International Chocolate Conference 2024

It all started when I heard a news item on the radio this morning about AI organising something or another. While I was in the shower I though to myself I wonder if I could create an AI that could organise a conference? Then I wondered what type of conference. The first thought that came to mind was an international banana conference (because I’d had a banana for breakfast).

Now, I’m not really into bananas. Well, I am. I like to eat them (but only because they remind me of the banana toffee I used to eat as a kid) but I’m not so interested in them that I could write an AI that could organise an entire international conference about them. So I had a change of mind about the subject of the conference. What do I love? I love chocolate. And so it became an International Chocolate Conference. Set in York.

Well, when I say set in York I really mean that it’s an online conference and I’m set in York.

So, what would the AI have to do? Well, there are steps involved in organising such a thing, and they’re the same steps whether a single person, a team or an AI carries them out. This is the order that I though of them:

  • Set up a website to host the conference
  • Draw up a list of subjects for the conference to address
  • Find speakers for each of the subjects
  • Invite people to attend the conference
  • Allow people to sponsor the conference.

Sponsorship is a particularly important part of the process because, financially solvent as I am, I don’t think I’d be able to fund an entire international conference. That said, I have no idea how much one would cost. So, yeah, perhaps I need to add that to the list:

  • Work out the cost of an international conference.

Of course, I’m getting a little ahead of myself here because all I have to do is write an AI to do all these things. A thought comes: am I making this a little too complex? Perhaps I ought to cut out the middle-bot and do it myself. After all, I’m a smart guy. I can work all these things out.


So, the list of subjects should be easy enough. No need to reinvent the wheel here. I’ll do it in two stages:

  1. Brainstorm the matter on the basis of what I know
  2. Compare what I think of with what other people have already done.

Here’s my brainstorming. Actually, here are the things I want to know about chocolate:

  • What are the biochemical effects of chocolate on the brain, mind and body (of people)?
  • Does eating chocolate make it more likely that you get into heaven (other afterlives are available)?
  • Where did chocolate come from in terms of its evolutionary path?
  • Can chocolate evolve further to become more delicious (think mint/chocolate hybrids)?
  • Which medical conditions could chocolate be a preventative treatment/cure/antidote for?
  • Is it possible to make good, pharmaceutical-grade chocolate at home?

That’s all my brain came up with right now, so it’s on to the internet for the next stage of the research: what have other people thought of? For this, I’m going to check out other, more established, international conferences. Let’s see, random pick: how about The 2022 International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP). Here are some of the sessions (from https://www.icrw.org/icrw-at-the-international-conference-on-family-planning-2022/):

  • The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on SRH Among Vulnerable Populations
  • Transition to high parity and sustained use of contraceptive: a cohort approach on determinants and differentials between young (15-24) and old (25 & above) married women in India
  • A Global SRHR Self-care Evidence Agenda: A Landscaping of Current Policy Mapping Strategies, Measurement Approaches, and Evidence Priorities for Future Research
  • Committed to Progress: building a stronger family planning movement, grounded in rights
  • Shifting Young Girls’ Sexual and Reproductive Health Attitudes, Beliefs, Norms, and Intentions in Burkina Faso: Evaluation Results from the (re)solve Project
  • Who are (sic) shaping men’s Family Planning practices? Learnings from a Social network study in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, India.

As you can see, there are some real heavy-hitters there. So, let’s see if we can translate these into chocolate-friendly subjects. Taking the list in the same order:

  • The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on chocolate consumption
  • A differential approach on the effects of chocolate consumption in the young (15-24) and old (25 & above)
  • An international comparative study into the effects of drug penalties on the volume sales of chocolate
  • Building a stronger community of chocolate eaters grounded in the individual’s right to binge
  • Shifting Young Girls’ Chocolate Attitudes, Beliefs, Norms, and Intentions in Burkina Faso
  • Learnings from a Social network study in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, India on who shapes men’s attitude to chocolate.

As you can see, this is a much more detailed and focused list. I think that both approaches are valid, but that the kinds of subjects on the latter list would arise from existing work discovered as a result of a call for speakers/papers in the run-up to the conference whereas the former list would arise from an attempt to interest speakers to undertake new research. Hopefully, the buzz generated by the conference would prompt both approaches.

Looking at the rest of the tasks on the list:

  • Building a website is pretty easy. When I was researching the Family Planning conferences I saw that the layouts of the conference site are similar to those I built as part of my first degree in Computing (with Psychological Studies) and so I’m sure that I could replicate them for my own purposes.
  • Drawing up a list of subjects (the methodology thereof) has already been addressed, so no worries on that score.
  • Finding speakers for each of the subjects is such an easy thing to do. People have done all sorts of research on all sorts of things and getting them to speak about their research is as simple as asking them. Researchers are so eager for publicity that it’s pitiful. Add in Poster Presentations for the lesser well-known subjects and you’ve got a full schedule of sessions before you can say come.
  • Inviting people to attend the conference is usually dependent on publicising the conference. This could actually be one of the biggest costs. That said, generating interest (in educational facilities such as universities) is often as easy as instigating word-of-mouth campaigns. At the end of the day though: resources directed towards publicity/marketing/advertising will dictate the number of attendees. Just thought of another point: getting celebrities in the field to speak/attend would increase attendance too.
  • The sponsorship element of the conference raises an interesting issue in my mind: who will pay and who will be paid? I understand that, traditionally, speakers are paid and the attendees pay to attend. How about we flip that model on its head? How about we get the speakers to pay us (in terms of allowing them to sponsor the conference and get publicity from doing so) and then pay attendees to … well, to attend? This will have the happy effect of cutting down on the cost of publicising the conference (because let’s face it, nobody is going to turn down the opportunity to listen to leaders in their field speaking about a subject of major international significance (chocolate)) and should lead to the books being properly balanced (providing sponsorship fees are set at an appropriate rate and the number of attendees is strictly limited).
  • As far as costs go: heck, if we get it right, the conference might even turn a profit.

So, yeah, that’s what I was thinking in the shower this morning. How about you?


7 thoughts on “York International Chocolate Conference 2024

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