Magazine article AI Magazine

SIGART on AAAI's Founding: The Chairman's Message, 1980

Magazine article AI Magazine

SIGART on AAAI's Founding: The Chairman's Message, 1980

Article excerpt

* This article reprints a section of the January 1980 "Chairman's Message" of the SIGART Newsletter (No. 69). SIGART is the Special Interest Group on Artificial Intelligence, of the Association for Computing Machinery. At the time of AAAI's formation, SIGART, with its 3,800 members, was the principal AI organization in the United States, and its primary activity was publishing the Newsletter.

As you probably know, the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) is being formed. The field of AI is mature enough that a national scientific organization is needed. Much of the immediate motivation for forming AAAI came from a growing sentiment within the U.S. AI community for a regularly-scheduled national conference.

Could not SIGART function as this national AI organization? Under the current structure, SIGs are set up as arms of ACM and as such must obtain ACM approval for most significant actions, including budgets, new publications, sponsorship of conference, and interactions with non-ACM organizations. This structure may be appropriate for a "special interest group" (although we would argue that more autonomy would be beneficial to the SIGs and to ACM), but not for a national scientific organization, which needs far more independence.

So a new society is born, and adds to the list of organizations directly relevant to main-line AI in the U.S.: SIGART, the International Joint Conferences on AI (IJCAI), and Artificial Intelligence (the AI Journal). Each has somewhat different emphasis and constituency: AAAI an independent scientific organization, with a regular national conference as a main goal; SIGART as the AI arm within the parent computer science society; IJCAI for international conferences, perhaps evolving into an organization of Al societies; and AIJ as the international refereed journal. That these are divided up as they are represents accidents of timing but is also due to the desire to perform functions directly without getting overly involved and bogged down in some previously-existing organization. For example, SIGART could have attempted an annual conference, but many people, including many of the prime-movers in AAAI, strongly felt that the bureaucratic hassle and expense of ACM involvement would be unbearable to the conference organizers, and thus ruled out SIGART sponsorship.

Well, then, if given AAAI, why still SIGART? AI's home is in computer science and AI would do itself great harm in attempting to separate. ACM is the major U. …

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