Magazine article AI Magazine

AAAI Executive Council

Magazine article AI Magazine

AAAI Executive Council

Article excerpt

The AAAI Executive Council meeting was held via a conference call on December 8, 2009. Attending via telecom were Martha Pollack, Ron Brachman, Carla Brodley, Bruce Buchanan, Claire Cardie, Tony Cohn, Dieter Fox, Amy Greenwald, Haym Hirsh, Eric Horvitz, Rao Kambhampati, David Leake, Sheila McIlraith, Tuomas Sandholm, Ted Senator, David E. Smith, and Carol Hamilton.

Not attending were Cynthia Breazeal, Gal Kaminka, Henry Kautz, Mark Maybury, Alan Schultz, and Rich Sutton.

AAAI President Martha Pollack called the meeting to order at 9:00 AM PST and roll call was taken. Pollack noted that this meeting would be shorter in duration, focusing on a few key issues, and welcomed feedback from the committee after the meeting on the format.

2010 Budget

Secretary-Treasurer Ted Senator reviewed the current market value of AAAI investments, explaining that the portfolio had a gain of 35 percent from its lowest point in April 2009. After the transfer of all funds to Vanguard in 2008, a series of rebalancing measures were taken, which were completed in May. The 2009 projections reflect an operating deficit of approximately $45,000 less than the originally budgeted deficit. After a series of substantial cuts made in 2008, the 2010 budget is also expected to meet the goal of a 3-5 percent drawdown on the investments. This is due in part to expanded conference services in 2010 and a healthier investment portfolio. A continuing area of concern is AAAI membership. An ad-hoc discussion was held to brainstorm ideas for attraction and retention of AAAI members.

The Council agreed that the difficult economic situation was a key factor in the downturn in memberships in 2009. Other factors played a part, such as no AAAI conference, at which many members routinely renew their memberships. The AAAI membership committee chairs are currently investigating the idea of an expanded membership structure, with senior and other honorary levels. Most agreed that this might be the single most effective way to retain members. Other suggestions included the distribution of the AI Landscape poster to computer science departments to heighten awareness of AAAI; development of AAAI's presence on social network sites, such as Facebook and Linkedin; expansion of international membership on Executive Council and other committees; and establishment of incentives for new members, such as prizes, or for current members who recruit new members.

AI Topics

Sheila McIlraith, who chairs an ad-hoc committee charged with exploring the current state of the AAAI AI Topics site and preparing a proposal for moving forward, briefly described the AI Topics site. The site, started in 2000, is a mediated, edited information for portal, originally geared toward high school and undergraduate students, instructors, journalists and the lay public. It has served as an important tool in responding to daily inquiries that the AAAI office receives on AI information, research, and history. McIlraith and Bruce Buchanan noted that the committee agreed that AAAI has a responsibility to communicate with the public about what AAAI and Al scientists are doing, and to be thoughtful in how we present Al to the public. The committee considered this in constructing their list of suggestions for how AAAI should continue AI Topics.

McIlraith explained that there are two caveats to the successful continuation of AI Topics: first, the need for it to be self-sustaining, and second, the recruitment of dedicated and consistent volunteers. The proposal before the Council called for the establishment of an editor-in-chief and a set of volunteer associate editors, who would manage the content for particular research areas. This body would determine the look and feel of the site as it moves forward. Periodic upgrades and facelifts to the site could be executed by a summer intern, as was done when the site was converted to a wiki in 2008. The site would continue to link to previously reviewed and published online text, video, instructional software, and audio information about AI. …

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