Our annual series of conferences has reached its 32nd year and once again was held at Peterhouse College, Cambridge in December. I acted as conference chair this time, as well as continuing as Technical Stream Chair, with Dan Neagu as my deputy. As before, Miltos Petridis acted as Application Stream Chair, with Jixin Ma as his deputy, and Adrian Hopgood acted as Workshop Organizer. The poster sessions were organized by Nirmalie Wiratunga. The seventeenth UK Case-Based Reasoning Workshop, which ran during the first day of the conference, was organized by Miltos Petridis. Rosemary Gilligan acted as Treasurer and was also responsible for Local Arrangements. Ariadne Tampion acted as our publicity officer. Our conference administrator was Mandy Bauer from our parent body the BCS, with paper administration by Bryony Bramer. A new feature this year was a panel session on the challenging subject of 'When should an AI be granted legal rights and what should these be?' which was organised by Ariadne Tampion. I should like to thank everyone involved for all their efforts on our behalf.
The final programme included papers by authors from 14 countries spread across four continents. All papers submitted were reviewed by an international panel of expert referees. There were prizes awarded for the best papers in the technical and application streams, the best poster and the best paper of which the principal author was a student. As well as the seventeenth UK Case-Based Reasoning Workshop the conference included workshops on 'Practical Data Mining', 'Temporal Representation and Reasoning in AI', 'Natural Language Processing' and 'Robotics and Intelligent Control'. Papers accepted for poster presentation were again published as short papers in the proceedings. The Group once again subsidized a reduced rate for non-presenting students.
We again used the Conference Expert system for electronic submission and reviewing of papers. The conference proceedings were published by Springer in a single volume under the title Research and Development in Intelligent Systems XXIX, incorporating Applications and Innovations in Intelligent Systems XX. A Special Issue of the international journal Expert Systems reprinting the best papers from each stream of AI-2011 is currently in press.
Our Research Student Forum, FAIRS, continued for a sixth year. This is a free event for PhD and MRes/MPhil research students in the AI field, running on a preliminary day before the workshop day of the conference. This time the organisation was taken over by Paul Trundle (University of Bradford) and Giovanna Martinez (Nottingham Trent University). The Forum offered students the opportunity to meet other research students and to discuss their work with senior researchers and practitioners, with sessions covering guidance on conducting research and writing a thesis, feedback on research and research plans, and advice on undergoing a viva.
At the last AGM in December 2011 Rosemary Gilligan, Adrian Hopgood, Gilbert Owusu, Miltos Petridis, Nirmalie Wiratunga and I were all elected to the committee for three years. Sid Shakya and Thomas Roth-Berghofer were subsequently co-opted at the committee meeting in January 2012 for one year. David Elizondo resigned from the committee during the course of the year.
The use of the Groupís website and our list server AI-SGES has continued to develop. The list server is open to all (whether or not they are members of the Group) and is free of charge. Full information is available on the Group's website. The Members' Area on the Group's website provides downloading access to the full text of our publication Expert Update back to Volume 8, No.1 as well as access to the full text of the ECCAI journal AI Communications, a state-of-the art review of AI and the SGAI 'AI Information Portal'. Further facilities and services for members will be added as time goes by. A password needed to access the Members' Area has been circulated to all members. Our Twitter presence continues at @bcs_sgai (with hashtags #sgaiconf, #ukkdd, #realai and #micomp).
For the first time our 'Real AI' event which has previously been organised alongside the annual conference in Cambridge was held at the BCS London office in October, organised by Gilbert Owusu and Sid Shakya from BT. This event is designed to showcase practical applications of artificial intelligence, of particular interest to business and industry. This was a very successful event which seemed to have benefited from its move to a London venue. It is hoped to repeat it in 2013.
The tenth in our series of BCS Machine Intelligence competitions for live demonstrations of applications that show 'progress towards machine intelligence' was also moved to the BCS London office as a free evening event on the same day as Real AI 2012. This too proved to be a very successful innovation, with some excellent work demonstrated. The next in our series of UK Symposia on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining is scheduled to take place in London on March 26th 2013.
The Group's membership has risen to 1,226 as at November 22nd 2012, sadly none of them paying us a membership fee.