Henry Kautz, chair of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Rochester, has been elected president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. With 3,200 members, the AAAI is the largest professional society for artificial intelligence researchers in the world. Over a six-year period, Kautz will serve as president for two years and as assistant to the president for four.
"After years of decline, the number of students nationwide expressing an interest in majoring in computer science has dramatically increased over the past year," says Kautz. "One of my priorities as president will be to support this trend by increasing the resources the organization provides for education in AI disciplines such as robotics and natural language understanding."
Kautz says that AI research extends beyond what most people think of as "artificial intelligence." AI research provides a unifying framework for understanding computation in both natural and man-made systems. Neurobiology and social networks, in addition to computer systems, can be explored in the context of artificial intelligence, says Kautz.
"On the scientific side, for example, work in machine learning has revealed connections that may help us understand how our own brains learn," says Kautz. "And on the engineering side, practical AI algorithms are used every time a user searches on Google or is given a recommendation on Amazon.com."
The AAAI recently sponsored a presidential panel on the future of AI to discuss the potential dangers of AI technology in military systems. Kautz believes the AAAI will soon be instrumental in devising a code of ethics for responsible AI research in such areas.
Kautz earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Cornell University, a master's degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University, a master's in computer science from the University of Toronto, and his doctorate in computer science from the University of Rochester. He is a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, and winner of the Computers & Thought Award.
Before coming to Rochester in 2006, Kautz was a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, where he led research into sensor-based ubiquitous computing, and automated reasoning. He initiated an interdisciplinary effort develop assistive technology for people with cognitive disabilities.
The AAAI supports 26 major yearly conferences, publishes journals and books through the AAAI Press, and serves as the voice of the AI research community to governments and the public.