Our annual series of conferences has reached its 36th year and once again was held at Peterhouse College, Cambridge in December. I acted as conference chair, as well as Technical Stream Chair. 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 twenty-first 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. Our conference administrator was Mandy Bauer from our parent body the BCS, with paper administration by Bryony Bramer. For the second consecutive year I organised a session of short presentations by authors of poster papers, summarising the topics of their posters. This year's panel session was on the topic of 'What benefits can, will or should AI deliver to the world in the next 10 years?'. It was organised by Andrew Lea who also organised the AI Open Microphone session for the second time. Frederic Stahl acted as publicity organiser and also organised one of the workshops. I am most grateful to all the organisers for their efforts on our behalf.
The final programme included papers by authors from 11 countries spread across three 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 in each stream of which the principal author was a student. As well as the twenty-first UK Case-Based Reasoning Workshop the conference included workshops on 'Data stream mining' and 'Deep learning meets the semantic web'. 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 ConferenceExpert 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 XXXIII, incorporating Applications and Innovations in Intelligent Systems XXIV.
Our Research Student Forum, FAIRS, continued for a tenth year. This is a free event for PhD and MRes/MPhil research students in the AI field, running on the day before the conference, which was organised by 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.
The term of office of two committee members Jixin Ma and Thomas Roth-Berghofer, came to an end at the conclusion of the 2015 AGM. Both were re-elected at the AGM for a further three-year term. At the Group's committee meeting in January 2016 Nadia Abouayoub and Andy Pardoe were both elected to the committee for a one-year term. I am sorry to report that Thomas Roth-Berghofer stepped down from the committee in October for personal reasons.
The use of the Group's 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.
We have added to our social media presence with a Twitter feed on the website home page. The Group's name is @bcs_sgai, with hashtags #sgaiconf, #ukkdd, #realai and #micomp. We now also have a Facebook presence with the name SGAIat BCS thanks to Andy Pardoe.
The ninth in our series of UK Symposia on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining was held at the BCS office in London in March 2016. The latest in our series of 'Real AI' events was held at the BCS London office in October, organised once again 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, and as before proved very successful. As an innovation this year we combined Real AI with a free event, the BCS prize competition for Progress Towards Machine Intelligence, which was last held in 2012 and was relaunched this year by Nadia Abouayoub and others. This combination of events proved very successful and we hope to repeat it during 2017.
The Group's membership stood at 1,229 on September 29th 2016.