Magazine article AI Magazine

Letters to the Editor

Magazine article AI Magazine

Letters to the Editor

Article excerpt

Fellows Nominations


This year I had planned to nominate a worthy colleague as a AAAI fellow. My request for references was turned down by two current Fellows on the basis that other more senior researchers had not yet been elected, and in particular, had not been elected last year.

I did some investigation, and discovered that the number of Fellows elected each year has dropped precipitously over the ten years since the program was instituted. In the most recent election (1999) there were only three new Fellows elected. The complete set of numbers is:

1990, 70 Fellows;

1991, 23 Fellows;

1992, 26 Fellows;

1993, 24 Fellows;

1994, 17 Fellows;

1995, 7 Fellows;

1996, 5 Fellows;

1997, 5 Fellows;

1998, 4 Fellows;

1999. 3 Fellows.

It doesn't take a statistical genius to see the pattern here.

It seems clear that there is little chance that my nomination will succeed regardless of the merits of the case. It looks to me as though the first few years of the program were used to give places to all of the then-prominent members of the field. Now that those slots have been filled, there is almost nothing a more junior member of the field can do to become elected, even if their more recent contributions are in fact of greater significance than those of previously elected Fellows.

I understand that the number of Fel lows has been set at a fixed percentage of the membership. However, this seems to me to be an overly static and rigid restriction. At the least, it should be tied to the total all-time membership, since once elected, Fellowship is a life appointment. But even this seems silly: Do we really need to grade AAAI Fellows on a curve? Furthermore, since membership is remaining steady or even declining, the obvious conclusion is that soon one will only be able to become a Fellow if a current Fellow dies.

I respectfully request that the AAAI leadership revisit this issue, and change the rules so that those who are worthy of Fellowship can receive formal recognition from this community. Otherwise, the continuing nomination process is a sham and a great waste of everyone's time.

-Marie desJardins

SRI International

David Waltz Responds

The issue that Marie DesJardins raises was discussed at the AAAI Executive Council meeting last summer. …

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