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AAAI Executive Council Meeting Minutes.

The AAAI Executive Council met via teleconference on September 25, 2016.

Attending: Tom Dietterich, Sonia Chernova, Vincent Conitzer, Boi Faltings, Ashok Goel, Carla Gomes, Eduard Hovy, Julia Hirschberg, Charles Isbell, Rao Kambhampati, Sven Koenig, David Leake, Henry Lieberman, Diane Litman, Jen Neville, Francesca Rossi, Ted Senator, Steve Smith, Manuela Veloso, Kiri Wagstaff, Shlomo Zilberstein, Sonia Chernova, Carol Hamilton

Not Attending: Sylvie Thiebaux, Toby Walsh, Brian Williams

Tom Dietterich convened the meeting at 6:05am PDT, and welcomed the newly-elected councilors. The new councilors gave brief statements about their interests and goals while serving on the Executive Council. The retiring councilors were also given an opportunity to offer their advice about future priorities for AAAI. All agreed that outreach to other research communities, international outreach, and encouraging diversity should be paramount. They urged the Council to concentrate on the direction of the field and AAAI, and not get bogged down in the mechanics. Dietterich thanked the retiring councilors for their contributions to the Council and to AAAI, and encouraged them to stay involved.

Standing Committee Reports

Awards/Fellows/Nominating: Manuela Veloso reviewed the current nomination process for Fellows, Senior Members, Distinguished Service, and Classic Paper. She asked the Council to encourage their colleagues to nominate people for all of these honors. She noted that it is fine to ask a Fellow to nominate you, and in the case of Senior Members, self-nomination with accompanying references is the normal process. She noted that there is a new award this year, the Outstanding Educator Award, which will be cosponsored by AAAI and EAAI. Sylvie Thiebaux volunteered to serve on the selection committee, representing the Council. Veloso reported that the Nominating Committee completed its selections for the recent ballot earlier in the summer, and welcomed the new councilors, thanking them for their thoughtful ballot statements.

Conference: Shlomo Zilberstein reported that Michael Wellman and Dale Schuurmans, AAAI-16 program cochairs, are doing a great job with AAAI-16 conference. Another record number of submissions was received on September 15, which indicates that the timing of the conference is continuing to work well for the community. While the conference is very prestigious, many do not realize that AAAI is more than the conference, so raising the visibility of the Association and what it does is important. Sandip Sen is spearheading sponsor recruitment, and has been working with Carol Hamilton on the annual AI Journal proposal for support of student activities, as well as other corporate sponsorships. Zilberstein noted that he is in the process of recruiting chairs for 2017. The committee discussed an overview of venues circulated earlier, and decided that New Orleans was their top choice, with Albuquerque next in line. Hamilton will enter into negotiations with New Orleans. Finally, Zilberstein noted that the Council should establish a written policy regarding its decision to make conference attendance for young families more accessible. The Council discussed the importance of continuing the initiatives started in 2015, such as outreach, ethics panels, and demos of new competitions. Zilberstein will follow up with the 2016 program chairs to be sure these issues are being addressed.

Conference Outreach: Henry Lieberman noted that the conference outreach program continues to offer sister conferences publicity opportunities through various AAAI outlets. However, more conferences need to be encouraged to take advantage of this. The committee recently added the 10th IEEE International Conference on Semantic Computing to the list.

Ethics: Francesca Rossi reported that the Ethics Committee has been formed, and noted the recent open letter on Autonomous Weapons signed by many members of the Al community. The Committee has not yet formed a proposal for a code of ethics, but has started gathering samples from other organizations.

Finance: Ted Senator reported that the Association investment portfolio is now over $9,000,000.00, and that programs have continued to operate on budget for 2015. Due to the larger surplus from AAAI-15, it is likely that a smaller operating deficit will be realized for 2015. Senator noted that there will be another meeting of the Council in November to approve the 2016 budget. (Ed note: This meeting was rescheduled to February 2016 due to extenuating circumstances.)

International: Tom Dietterich reported on behalf of Toby Walsh that AAAI recently sponsored a "Lunch with a AAAI Fellow" event at IJCAI, and this program proved to be very successful. He would like to see more of this type of outreach in the future. Sven Koenig noted that AAAI could have a stronger presence via town hall meetings, a booth, or panels and talks at IJCAI or other events. This is a strong possibility in 2016 because of the North American location of IJCAI. This would raise the visibility of AAAI and encourage the international community to join. All agreed that AAAI presidents should pursue a presence at IJCAI on a permanent basis.

Policy/Government Relations: The newly-formed Policy / Government Relations committee will be conducting a survey, and will convene its first meeting after that survey is complete.

Membership: Ed Hovy reported that reduced membership fees for weak currency countries have been instituted, and reminded the Council to review this program every year. The program will be up for renewal in three years. At that time, the Council should decide if membership fees need to be adjusted. However, an annual review will help avoid any long-term problems. He also reminded the Council that the other component of this program--developing strong local representatives in international locales--is equally important, and should be finalized in 2016. AAAI is continuing to offer free memberships to attendees of cooperating conferences who are new to AAAI. Several conferences have taken advantage of this opportunity. Hovy noted that the most important challenge facing AAAI is the retention of members through the development of programs that serve the needs of its members. Tom Dietterich thanked Hovy for his service as chair of the Membership Committee, and noted that he is in the process of revamping the committee assignments in light of the recent Council transition.

Publications: David Leake reviewed all of the publishing activities of the Association during the past nine months, including AI Magazine, several proceedings, and workshop and symposium technical reports. He noted that Ashok Goel has agreed to join AI Magazine as associate editor, and welcomed Goel to the group. Goel thanked Leake and Tom Dietterich for this opportunity, and said he looked forward to contributing to the magazine.

Funding Requests

CRA-W: Tom Dietterich reported that AAAI had received a request from CRAW for $15,000.00 in support of their efforts. He proposed that AAAI contribute $5,000.00, primarily in support of outreach and diversity for women in research. During the following discussion, it was noted that CRA-W has had difficulty of late securing funding from traditional sources, and would like to attract 100-200 more women at their conference, which supports women in their first three years of graduate study. The Council suggested that CRA-W be encouraged to collocate their conference with AAAI, but also would like to see an increased effort to establish a AAAI subgroup of women. Julia Hirschberg moved to support this request at the $5,000.00 level, and Steve Smith seconded the motion. The motion passed. Charles Isbell will follow up with CRA-W to offer complimentary one-year memberships to award recipients.

AI Topics: Tom Dietterich noted that Bruce Buchanan and Reid Smith would like to continue AI Topics, but fund it via membership revenue, rather than an NSF grant, as it has been for the past several years. While this may be possible, it was decided that a clearer proposal needs to be developed to establish what the exact dollar amount would be per member. The Council also noted that the AI Alert mailing list should be opt-out rather than opt-in. An article in the AI Magazine would help raise the visibility of the site, which has far better curation then Wikipedia.

Focus Group Report

Tom Dietterich reported that he ran a focus group during AAAI to explore new directions for AAAI. The group helped develop a questionnaire reflecting their discussions, and this was subsequently circulated to the AAAI membership. The top-ranked item by the membership was the pursuit of education initiatives, including summer schools for college freshmen, development of course materials, and continuing education opportunities for AAAI members. As a result, Dietterich is seeking to establish a Committee on Education, and asking the members to study and implement one of the ideas detailed in the survey. He is seeking volunteers from the Council. Kiri Wagstaff volunteered to help with this committee, and moved to approve the formation of this committee as an ad hoc committee of the Executive Council. Francesca Rossi seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously. In addition, the Council moved to appoint Wagstaff as chair of the committee, which also passed with no opposing votes.

Media Committee

Tom Dietterich would like to create an ad hoc media committee, which would advise on and create social media opportunities for members, including a blog, and other features. Advice on appropriate members of the committee is needed. This committee would be a subcommittee of the Publications Committee, and might also oversee the AI Topics website. Dietterich will work on finding an appropriate chair for the committee. Ted Senator moved to create the ad hoc committee, which was seconded by Steve Smith. The motion passed.

Tom Dietterich thanked everyone for their participation, and the meeting was adjourned at 8:01 AM PDT.
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Title Annotation:AAAI News; Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence
Publication:AI Magazine
Article Type:Conference notes
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2016
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