TITLE: A Personal Goodbye to AAAI AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: June 06, 2005 5:04 PM DESC: Not renewing my AAAI membership has foced me to admit that I am no longer primarily a student of AI. That is hard to admit, as something of the end to the dream that led me into computing. ----- BODY: the AAAI logo I recently made a bittersweet decision: I am not going to renew my membership in AAAI. The AAAI is the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, and I have been a member since 1987, when I joined as a graduate student. Like many computer scientists who grew up in the '70s and '80s, AI was the siren that lured me to computing. Programs that could play chess, speak and understand English sentences, create a piece of music; programs that could learn from experience... so many tantalizing ideas that all lay in the sphere of AI. I wanted to understand how the mind works, and how I could make one, if only a pretend one in the silicon of the rather inelegant machines of the day. I remember when I first discovered Gödel, Escher, Bach and was enchanted even further by the idea of self-reference, by the intertwining worlds of music, art, mathematics, and computers that bespoke a truth much deeper than I had ever understood before. The book took me a whole summer to read, because every few pages set my mind whirling with possibilities that I had to think through before moving on. I did my doctoral work in AI, at the intersection of knowledge-based systems and memory-based systems, and reveled in my years as a graduate student, during which the Turing Test and Herb Simon's sciences of the artificial and cognitive science were constant topics of discussion and debate. These ideas and their implications for the world mattered so much to us. Even more, AI led me to study psychology and philosophy, where I encountered worlds of new and challenging ideas that made me a better and more well-rounded thinker. My AI research continued in my early years as an assistant professor, but soon my interests and the needs of my institution pulled me in other directions. These days, I think more about programming support tools and programming languages than I do AI. I still love the AI Enterprise but find myself on the outside looking in more often than not. I still love the idea of machine learning, but the details of modern machine learning research no longer enthrall me. Maybe the field matured, or I changed. The AI that most interests me now is whatever technique I need to build a better tool to support programmers in their task. Still, a good game-playing program still draws my attention, at least for a little while... In any case, the idea of paying $95 a year to receive another set of printed magazines that I don't have time to study in depth seems wasteful of paper and money both. I read some AI stuff on the web when I need or want, and I keep up with what my students are doing with AI. But I have to admit that I'm not an AI scientist anymore. For some reason, that is easier to be than to say. -----