AI Winter has returned

About two weeks ago, AI Winter set upon us again.  Although not the same AI Winter that froze over most of the AI research in the 80s and 90s.  This AI winter is an “inter-city, bi-weekly, programming study group” that will study seminal Artificial Intelligence papers over the next three months, for fun.  Philadelphia is ground zero for the event, but there are cities around the world following the program.

In the first meeting, we discussed Alan Turing’s Computing Machinery and Intelligence, which among other things, describes the Turing test (although he doesn’t call it that).  Remarkably, everybody who arrived (over 30 people) had read the paper, which I think beats any graduate class I’ve attended thus far.  Each week a volunteer facilitates the discussion and another volunteer takes notes.  The discourse was lively and with a healthy mix of backgrounds from all in attendance, there were many insights.  It’s like a book club for readers who like breakthrough research papers in AI.  Oh and afterwards, we drink some beer.

Apparently NoSQL Summer, a “reading club for databases, distributed systems & NoSQL-related papers” was the spark which launched the Philly Lambda group to host Functional Fall, both of which were a success and hence, AI Winter.  The idea is based on “studying the masters, not their pupils.” i.e. reading the first hand source vs. a summary (ironically, that link cites Wikipedia for the quote…)

The AI winter papers should complement my Advanced AI class pretty well.  Speaking of that, I’ll be performing some data mining with a popular machine learning tool called WEKA, but more on that later.