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AAAI Executive Council minutes.

The Executive Council Meeting was held July 10, 2005, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Attending: Ron Brachman, Alan Mackworth, Tom M. Mitchell, Ted Senator, Tony Cohn, Tim Finin, Lise Getoor, Yolanda Gil, Carla Gomes, Jim Hendler, David Leake, Michael Littman, Andrew Moore, Karen Myers, Illah Nourbakhsh, Peter Stone (partial), Carol Hamilton, Mike Hamilton

Not attending: Steve Chien, Oren Etzioni, Haym Hirsh, Maja Mataric, Yoav Shoham, Eric Horvitz, Maria Gini, Kevin Knight, Sebastian Thrun

AAAI President Ron Brachman brought the meeting to order at 9:00 AM, and introductions were made. The minutes of the last meeting on March 20, 2005, which had been circulated prior to the meeting, were approved. Secretary-Treasurer Ted Senator briefly reviewed the fiduciary responsibilities of the Council members

Standing Committee Reports

Finance. Finance Committee Chair Ted Senator noted that the budget for 2005 was slightly better than anticipated because of some minor cuts that were made during the early part of the year. In addition, the location and format of the conference resulted in lower costs than in recent years. In addition, the new AIIDE conference broke even. However, the association is still operating with close to a $600,000 deficit, and Senator encouraged the Council to find ways to reverse this pattern. Ron Brachman noted that the Council and each of the committees should suggest areas of growth to help balance the budget. He requested that each committee find two innovative ideas to grow numbers in their specific areas.


Past President Tom Mitchell, who chairs the Fellows Selection committee, Awards committee, and the Nominating committee, reviewed the list of AAAI awards for 2005. Four new fellows were elected, including Usama M. Fayyad (Yahoo, Inc.), Raymond J. Mooney (University of Texas at Austin), Andrew W. Moore (Carnegie Mellon University), and David E. Smith (NASA Ames Research Center). The 2005 Classic Paper award was awarded to two papers from the AAAI-86, including Steve Hanks (University of Washington) and Drew McDermott (Yale University) for their paper "Default Reasoning, Nonmonotonic Logics, and the Frame Problem," and David Haussler (University of California, Santa Cruz) for his paper "Quantifying the Inductive Bias in Concept Learning." The AAAI Distinguished Service award was given to Nils Nilsson (Stanford University), and the Robert S. Engelmore Memorial award was presented to James A. Hendler (University of Maryland).

Other conference awards presented included the AAAI-05 Outstanding Paper award, which was given to Vincent A. Cicirello (Drexel University) and Stephen F. Smith (Carnegie Mellon University) for their paper "The Max K-Armed Bandit: A New Model of Exploration Applied to Search Heuristic Selection;" the AAAI-05 Outstanding Senior Program Committee Member award, which was presented to Gaurav Sukhatme (University of Southern California); and the AAAI-05 Outstanding Program Committee award, which was given to Joerg Hoffmann (Max-Planck-Institute for Computer Science). IAAI-05 honored authors of seven outstanding papers with the IAAI-05 Deployed Applications award. Finally, an exciting addition in 2005 was the $10,000 prize for the winner of the General Game Playing Competition.

AAAI continued to award ten prizes of $500 each for the best projects in the area of computer science with an artificial intelligence component at the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Reid Simmons served as the chair for this event, and judges included Sven Koenig, David Kortenkamp, and Holly Yanco. In 2005, there were 10 winning projects by 12 winning students (one team of 3). Five projects were entered in the category of computer science and five were entered in engineering.

Mitchell also welcomed the four new members of the AAAI Executive Council (Maria Gini, Kevin Knight, Peter Stone, and Sebastian Thrun), and thanked the outgoing councilors (Carla Gomes, Michael Littman, Maja Mataric, and Yoav Shoham) for their work during the past three years.

Conference. Conference Committee Chair Jim Hendler reported that the number of papers exceeded all expectations with 803 submissions. Although paper submissions are usually down in an IJCAI year, the timing of the paper deadline after the IJCAI-05 notification deadline may have contributed to this significant rise in submissions. The rise in submissions, and subsequent acceptances, resulted in a significant increase of 25 percent in attendance over 2004 (preregistration figures). However, the greatest growth was in student registrations, so there was little positive impact on the conference revenue. It is hoped, however, that the submission and attendance trend will continue in 2006.

Hendler noted that the program cochairs for 2005, Manuela Veloso and Rao Kambhampati, created several new features for the 2005 conference, including the sister conference track, the conference-wide poster and demo session, and a new schedule where no invited speakers run in parallel with technical paper talks. The General Game Playing Competition was added, and Tim Finin reported that a student blog run by student volunteers would be available on site. Yolanda Gil, program cochair for AAAI-06, noted that the Conference Committee has a good mechanism in place to transfer the successes of 2005 to 2006.

Gil reported on the plans that she and cochair Ray Mooney have made thus far for AAAI-06. The position of General Chair was approved at the last meeting, and Ken Forbus will be serving in this capacity. Several new features have been incorporated into the call for participation, including two special tracks: AI and the Web and Integrated Intelligent Capabilities; senior member papers; nectar papers; and member posters. The response to these innovative ideas thus far has been very positive. Gil hopes to launch an aggressive campaign to get the word out about AAAI, including reminders to members, press releases, and special features on the web site. The Council agreed that the innovations of 2005 and proposed innovations for 2006 were very exciting, and thanked both the 2005 and 2006 cochairs for putting these new features and programs in place.

Hendler reported that the Conference Committee made a recommendation to continue with the Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference (AIIDE) for a second year. The conference received good media coverage, and despite smaller than expected attendance, met with enthusiastic reception by the community. This recommendation was approved by the Council.

The Council asked the Conference Committee to propose a long-term AAAI affiliation model for conferences like AIIDE, after discussing any significant issues with the AIIDE chairs. In addition, Alan Mackworth suggested that the committee investigate the possibility of a semiautonomous model for other conferences that might be interested in some kind of AAAI affiliation.

Alan Mackworth noted that it has been increasingly difficult to schedule the AAAI conference during the busy summer conference season without running into some conflict. He noted that the program committee might consider other time periods if a schedule change would result in less conflict and better participation. Tony Cohn noted that IJCAI had chosen January in 2007 because of the climate in India, but will probably return to a summer schedule after that time.

Grants. Yolanda Gil reported for Grants Chair Maja Mataric, who could not attend. The Grants Committee proposed the following course of action for its members: First, review and revamp the current set of guidelines for AAAI conference cooperation, and define creative and nonmonetary forms of sponsorship that AAAI can offer other conference, and the associated obligations of the sponsored organization (such as having the AAAI logo on the conference page and distribution materials). This includes ad dressing sponsorship of international and foreign conferences. Second, post these guidelines and forms of sponsorship on the AAAI web site for easy access by interested potential partners. Third, agree on a list of conferences that Carol Hamilton can contact annually to discuss or establish or renew AAAI sponsorship. Finally, revisit this issue at an AAA! Executive Council meeting annually, in order to review the list membership and update it as appropriate. This proposal was enthusiastically endorsed by the Executive Council. It is expected that a set of guidelines and obligations will be prepared for the next Executive Council meeting. Gil planned to get feedback from the representatives of the sister conferences during the upcoming week.

Gil also reported that the Grants Committee had awarded $10,000 in conference grants, split between the Agents Americas Summer School and AAAI Affiliate KDD-06. AAAI also granted cooperation status to another eighteen conferences.

In other areas, AAAI continued to contribute about $40,000 in subsidy to several programs at the national conference, including the Intelligent Systems Demos, the Robot Competition, the Game Playing Competition, and the Doctoral Consortium. In addition to the awards listed above, totaling approximately $16,000, AAAI also provides $52,000 in scholarships to students attending the national conference and symposium series.

In 2005, $73,500 was provided by outside grants to help support AAAI conference programs. The Executive Council suggested that the task of securing sponsors should be a function of the conference program committee, and that it is important to find a person who would be willing to serve for more than one year in order to build of relationships with past and potential sponsors.

Membership. Carol Hamilton reported that the number of paid members had increased during the past year, and that this was largely due to the platinum category on conference and symposium registration forms. The increase was fairly evenly split between regular and student members, but there was a sharper increase in the percentage of student members. This can also be tied to the increase in registration numbers for AAAI-05.

Publications. Publications Chair David Leake reported that upcoming issues of the Al Magazine included the fall issue on innovative applications of artificial intelligence, and the AAAI 25th anniversary issue in the winter. On the production side, the bundling of Al Magazine with other magazines has resulted in faster delivery to most areas. Leake encouraged Council members to encourage colleagues to submit good articles to Al Magazine.

Tony Cohn, the editor of AAAI Press, reported that the most recent two books from AAAI Press sold 1,000 copies each, and several new books are either in production or being considered. He is in the process of putting together an editorial board for the press, and asked the Council for recommendations. Cohn noted that The MIT Press is no longer copublishing the AAAI conference proceedings. The proceedings were distributed on CD only at the conference, and will be made available in hard copy after the conference on a limited basis. A revenue neutral model is planned. Orders for the hard copy of JAIR have been somewhat disappointing, but only a small number of orders are needed to make the project break even. Cohn encouraged Council members to ask their own libraries to order copies. The Council suggested that an order form be made available on the JAIR website.

David Leake reported that Google search engines now have IP access to our digital library. It is hoped that users will be able to use Google and possibly CiteSeer in the near future to search the papers in our digital library.

Symposium. Symposium Associate Chair Karen Myers reported that the current chair of the Symposium Committee, Holly Yanco, would be stepping down in fall 2005. Cochair Alan Schultz will assume Holly's responsibilities, and a new cochair will be sought. The 2005 Spring Symposium consisted of eight symposia. Although attendance was down from 2004, the event was expected to break even. Registration materials were currently being distributed for the 2005 Fall Symposium, and a slate of eight topics had been chosen for spring 2006.

Old Business

Area Conference Research. Yolanda Gil, who prepared an extensive report on area conferences for the March meeting, updated the committee on current plans to continue to build relationships with these conferences. Gil proposed that AAAI form ongoing relationships with the conferences represented in the 2005 sister conference track program, and that current chairs could pass along AAAI cooperation guidelines to future chairs. Gil would like to form an AAAI Ambassadors Committee, consisting of AAAI members among sister conference communities. This committee would work with the various conferences and AAAI to coordinate dates and other issues. The Council supported this idea, and Gil will work to find appropriate members for the committee.

CRA Report. Tim Finin, AAAI's Computing Research Association (CRA) liaison, reported that the CRA has formed two task forces--one on government funding of computing research and one on human resources in computing research. (These are discussed in more detail in the new business section.) CRA is also studying the future of scientific publishing, and Finin encouraged AAAI to be a part of this discussion, and suggested that Mike Hamilton participate in these discussions. CRAW (CRA Committee on the status of Women in Computing Research) continues to be successful, and will broaden their efforts to address the issues being considered by the Human Resources task force. The annual CRA Snowbird Conference, which serves the North American computing research community, will be held in 2006. Finin encouraged Council members to submit proposals for invited talks, sessions, or panels with an artificial intelligence theme. Finin also suggested that creating a Grand Challenge topic for the research community that incorporates an AI theme, would give more visibility to AI, and could attract increased funding for the field.

Fiftieth Anniversary Committee. Jim Hendler reported that plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dartmouth Conference were beginning to take shape. Bruce Buchanan will serve as the chair of the Fellows program, which is scheduled for July 15-16. Others involved in the preliminary planning phase include Tom Mitchell, Dave Waltz, Haym Hirsh, and Ed Feigenbaum. A formal committee will be formed in the fall, and the Council requested a formal proposal and budget by the end of September.

New Business

Before the commencement of new business, the gavel was passed from outgoing President Ron Brachman to incoming President Alan Mackworth. The Council formally thanked Brachman for his leadership and contributions during the past two years, and also thanked Tom Mitchell, outgoing past president for his six years of service on the Executive Committee as president-elect, president, and past president.

CRA Task Forces. Alan Mackworth reported that two new task forces had been formed by the CRA as a result of discussions at the annual CRA Leadership Summit in February 2005. The Computing Research Funding Task Force will develop a coalition of societies and companies to be the source of computing research information and advocacy to the government, other coalitions, and to the members of the participating societies. The AAAI representative on this task force is Haym Hirsh.

The Image of Computing Task Force will work to increase the public's understanding of computing, thereby increasing the number of computing students at all levels--K-12, undergraduate, and graduate. AAAI's representative, Andrew Moore, was in the process of putting together a list in the following two categories: (1) ways in which AAAI helps to promote a positive image of computer science to the public, encourages diverse participation, and attempts to attract high school students into computer science programs and undergraduates into computer science graduate programs; and (2) ways in which AI has contributed and hopes to contribute in the future to the image of computing, particularly among K-12 students. He asked Council members to please send suggestions directly to him.

AAAI Mission Statement. In response to issues surrounding the ethical use of AI, the Council discussed a proposal to modify the mission statement of AAAI. After a lengthy discussion, the Council concluded that the mission statement would be amended with the following phrase: "... to promote research in, and responsible use of, artificial intelligence." The overall statement will be reviewed for style. More importantly, AAAI should continue to encourage open debate on this issue, and inform the public and the policy makers about the ethical uses of AI.

International Issues. Alan Mackworth discussed the issues facing AAAI in the international arena, including the hesitancy of many conferences to formally affiliate with a national society rather than an international one. Although AAAI's membership has always been international, it is perceived as a national society, primarily because of its name. A meeting of the representatives of national and multinational, umbrella societies will take place in Edinburgh during IJCAI-05. IJCAI hosts this meeting every two years in its capacity as the primary international conference group. Although IJCAI is expanding its mission to include journal publishing, there is still no organization that addresses the international concerns of the AI community, and serves as a coordinating body for the dozens of national societies and conferences. Mackworth discussed the idea of forming a separate, international umbrella organization, and will discuss the idea with other organizations at the meeting in Edinburgh.

CD Donations. David Leake reported on a proposal to donate CDs to developing nations. Under the proposal, AAAI would contribute available excess back inventory to libraries in specified countries. The proposal suggested using the guidelines established by ACM SIGMOD for a similar program. The Council allotted up to $500 for postage and materials for this effort. AAAI staff will develop a list of potential libraries.

AI Journal Membership Benefit. AAAI currently contributes a small fee per regular member to cover the AI Journal online access benefit for AAAI members. However, Carol Hamilton reported that the number of users is currently significantly lower that this number. The Council requested that Hamilton investigate the possibility of changing the plan to cover users only, rather than eligible members. In addition, the membership committee should review this benefit to see if it is still of significant value to the members.

AAAI-07/IJCAI-09 Preparations. Carol Hamilton reported that negotiations were currently underway for Denver or Vancouver as possible sites for AAAI-07. AAAI continues to face issues with regard to the ratio of sleeping rooms to meeting space used in major cities. Forming a small rotation of cities or returning to the same city each year would help to increase the number of options available. Alan Mackworth noted that it will be important to contact CSCSI, the Canadian AI Society, and coordinate with them if we decide to go to Vancouver in 2007.

Hamilton reported that she would be presenting three options to the IJCAI Trustees and Executive Commit tee during IJCAI-05 later that month, including Pasadena, California, Austin, Texas, and Minneapolis. During the search for a suitable location for IJCAI-09, she encountered many of the same issues facing AAAI. In addition, IJCAI requested both winter and summer options for the first time. The IJCAI Executive Committee planned to make their decision regarding a city at IJCAI-05.

Strategic Planning Committee. Tom Mitchell reported that he plans to convene a meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee and solicited feedback from the Council. The Council suggested the following issues for consideration by the SPC: (1) ethical use of AI, and ways to educate the public and policymakers about this issue; (2) fundraising for AAAI events, and establishing an ongoing function that takes care of this effort; (3) explore emerging areas of AI, and foster ways for these areas to grow within AAAI rather than outside, using AIIDE as a model; (4) explore the international issues facing AAAI, and propose a mechanism for AAAI to formally affiliate with the international community; (5) work with AAAI staff to review the current website; (6) designate a person or committee to investigate the possibility of establishing an AI exhibit at computer or science museums (Bruce Buchanan is currently working on this effort with the Computer History Museum in Mountain View); (7) Review and modify the current timeline at AI Topics website, and create a list of "What's Happening in AI;" (8) Create a repository of materials that will represent the best practices on the teaching of AI; (9) Encourage participation of AAAI members in the CRA, CSTB, and other national forums, as well as service in Washington, DC at DARPA or NSF. Organize face-to-face meetings between conference attendees and people who have served in these capacities at the conference to facilitate this dialogue, or run 2-3 day new faculty seminars; (10) Establish a committee to make suggestions for giving AI equal status in undergraduate curriculum; (11) Work with the conference committee to attract highly visible keynote speakers for the national conference.

Alan Mackworth thanked the Council members for coming and for all their work on behalf of AAAI. The meeting was adjourned at 4:20 PM.
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Title Annotation:American Association for Artificial Intelligence
Publication:AI Magazine
Geographic Code:1U2PA
Date:Mar 22, 2006
Previous Article:2007 Spring Symposium Series.
Next Article:Components, curriculum, and community: robots and robotics in undergraduate AI education.

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