Our annual series of conferences has reached its 37th 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-second 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. 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 'AI and Privacy'. It was organised by Andrew Lea who also organised the AI Open Microphone session. Frederic Stahl acted as publicity organiser. As an innovation this year, Nadia Abouayoub organised a walking tour of Cambridge, including a visit to Kings College, as an alternative to lunch on the second day of the conference. Our conference administrator was Mandy Bauer from our parent body the BCS, with paper administration by Bryony Bramer. 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-second UK Case-Based Reasoning Workshop the conference included workshops on 'Autonomic Systems that Learn', 'AI Applications in Law' and 'Autonomous mobile robots'. 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.
During the year an important change was made to our conference proceedings, which have been published by Springer for many years. From 2017 onwards the proceedings will be published in Springer's prestigious Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence series, a sub-series of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science series. This change was marked by a new name for the proceedings series. In 2016 the papers were published in a single volume under the title Research and Development in Intelligent Systems XXXIII, incorporating Applications and Innovations in Intelligent Systems XXIV. This year the title of the proceedings is simply Artificial Intelligence XXXIV, the number marking the 34th in an annual series of publications going back to our fourth annual conference in 1984.
Our Research Student Forum, FAIRS, continued for an eleventh 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 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 three committee members Andrew Lea, Sid Shakya and Frederic Stahl came to an end at the conclusion of the 2016 AGM and as Thomas Roth-Berghofer had stepped down in October 2016 for personal reasons this gave four vacant posts to fill. Andrew Lea, Sid Shakya and Frederic Stahl were all re-elected at the AGM for a further three-year term, together with Nadia Abouayoub who had previously been a co-opted member of the committee. Andy Pardoe was subsequently co-opted to the committee for a further one-year term to the end of 2017.
The Group's social media presence has continued to develop. Our 'Twitter Master' is Nadia Abouayoub. The Group's name is @bcs_sgai, with hashtags #sgaiconf, #ukkdd, #realai and #micomp. There is a Twitter feed on the website home page. We now also have a Facebook presence with the name SGAIat BCS managed by Andy Pardoe. In addition, our list server AI-SGES 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 tenth in our series of UK Symposia on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining was held at the BCS office in London in May 2017, organised by Frederic Stahl, Max Bramer and Miltos Petridis. This series continues to reflect practical progress in this increasingly important field.
The latest in our series of 'Real AI' events was held at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London in October, as the BCS London Office was unexpectedly unavailable. It was 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. One of the speakers was Stelios Kapetanakis, who was subsequently co-opted as a committee member up to the end of 2017.
For the second time we combined Real AI with the BCS prize competition for Progress Towards Machine Intelligence in a single event. The competition was organised principally by Nadia Abouayoub and attracted some strong entries. The Machine Intelligence prize was won by Toby Leheup and Shahzad Chohan of Credit Suisse with their entry 'Talos', a Deep Learning system that contextually classifies phrases into 'Benign' or 'Malign' in the context of financial activities.
As another innovation this year, the Group collaborated with BCS Women to launch a series of free evening lectures at the BCS London Office entitled 'AI Accelerator'. There have been two sessions so far: 'An Introduction to Data Mining and Predictive Analytics' presented by Frederic Stahl and 'Artificial Intelligence: How did we get here and where are we going?' presented by myself. More AI Accelerator sessions are expected in 2018.
The Group's membership stood at 1,329 on November 25th 2017.