Join us for Fission's first-ever conference! We're exploring the future of computing with experts in AI, programming language theory, computational media arts, and more.

Causal Islands: The Origin Story

Fission co-founders Boris and Brooklyn have been working together for quite a while on computing, distributed systems, and encryption in an effort to create developer tools that make building applications more accessible.

After attending BlueYard's EthCC side event in 2022, they were inspired by the speakers and attendees who brought their diverse research interests and areas of expertise into the conversation. They realized that being able to connect with folks outside of their regular circle was invaluable, and decided that they wanted to hold a conference of their own. One where everyone could learn from each other and share their knowledge while working on the future of computing.

The name "Causal Islands" comes from physics. It refers to how information traveling at the speed of light hits a physical limit. In our distributed systems, we experience this physical limit as latency - a function of our proximity to data centers and the quality of our connectivity. Brooklyn has used this concept in several of her talks to highlight how edge compute plays a part in reducing latency.

As we thought about it, it seemed like a good metaphor: we can think of us as all existing on our own islands of information: building our tech stacks and pursuing research into different areas of the future of computing, each in our own direction.

The Causal Islands conference is designed to bring together and engage everyone interested in the future of computing, both to share what they're working on, and to learn and be inspired by cross-disciplinary approaches on other islands of focus.

Now that you know the origin and purpose of the conference, let's jump into some frequently asked questions!

Who is behind Causal Islands?

Fission created Causal Islands with the generous support of BlueYard Capital and Protocol Labs. BlueYard Captial is our headlining sponsor, and Protocol Labs is supporting the video capture and streaming of the virtual conference.

We also wish to thank BetaKit for their promotional support and Halo Brewery for partnering with us to create Softmax, a special session ale inspired by Causal Islands! (Yes Halo made us a conference beer. They also make really great flavoured sparkling water if you'd prefer!)

Brooklyn Zelenka, CTO and co-founder of Fission, Zeeshan Lakhani, staff research engineer at Fission and co-founder of Papers We Love Conference, and Chad Fowler, partner and CTO at BlueYard Capital, formed the programming committee that brought together our amazing set of speakers.

You can watch a recent AMA live stream with the programming committee below:

Where will this conference take place?

This is a three-day, single-track conference taking place in person April 25-27, 2023 at the Paradise Theatre in Toronto, Canada, as well as virtually.

There is also an evening social at Lula Lounge for any of the Toronto tech community who can't make it to the conference, but would love to network and see some cool art + tech performances! The schedule is available on the Causal Islands website.

Who is speaking at Causal Islands?

We are thrilled to be welcoming 16 talented speakers to our inaugural conference:


Maggie Appleton - The Expanding Dark Forest and Generative AI

Rupert Parry - Building Humane User Interfaces with Language Models


Ramsey Nasser - How to Write a Joke That Will Still Be Funny in Two Thousand Years

Jon Corbett - Indigitalization: Indigenous Computing Theory

Jenn Schiffer - Condemned to Compute: How Witnessing the Last 20 Years of Computing Tells Me We're Going to Be Punished with Another 20

David Ogborn - The Many Stories of Algorithmic Improvisation (AKA Artistic Live Coding)

Chia Amisola - The Creation Myths of Computing

P2P + Distributed Systems

Quinn Wilton - Querying Decentralized Data in Rhizomatic Systems

Simon Wardley - Crossing The River by Feeling The Stones (virtual presentation)

Mauve - Holistic Local First Software On The P2P Web

Tools for Thought

Geoffrey Litt - Dynamic Documents as Personal Software

Cryptography + Encryption

Dr. Cristina Cifuentes - Towards Intelligent Application Security

Brooklyn Zelenka - Seamless Services for an Open World


Michael R. Bernstein - The Hardest Problem in Computer Science: Marketing

Programming Language Theory

Edwin Brady - Idris 2: Quantitative Types in Action

Shriram Krishnamurthi - Programming Before You Program

What can I hope to gain from attending?

Attending Causal Islands means listening to world-class talks and meeting like-minded engineers, creators, futurists, and researchers working in adjacent or seemingly unrelated fields who expand your perspective and ignite your passion for your work.

How do I purchase tickets for this mind-bending event?

In-person tickets and pay-what-you-can virtual tickets are still available on the Causal Islands ticketing website.

Are there student rates or bursary options?

We do have student ticket options. We don't have a formal bursary program, but we are happy to support interested individuals with lower-cost ticket options on a case-by-case basis. Contact us at or drop by the Fission Discord.