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Prof. Susan L. Epstein's nomination on AAAI executive council

Brief bio of Susan L. Epstein

Susan Epstein is a Professor of Computer Science at Hunter College and The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY). She received mathematics degrees from Smith College and New York University's Courant Institute, and her Ph.D. in computer science from Rutgers. She develops knowledge representations and learning algorithms to support the development of expertise. An interdisciplinary scholar, she has worked with and published for mathematicians, psychologists, geographers, linguists, microbiologists, and roboticists, to identify important principles about knowledge and learning and to help computers exploit those ideas. She has served as a symposium co-chair and Senior Program Committee member for AAAI, chair of The Cognitive Science Society, Secretary-Treasurer of ACM's SIGAI, and on the editorial board of AI Matters. She has received awards for her research and her mentorship, and pioneered computational cognitive science in the undergraduate curriculum. Her current focus is on spatial cognition and cognitive robotics. She has published more than 150 papers in leading journals and conferences.


Unless people value and trust AI, we limit both our ability to support society and society's willingness to fund our work. Two significant challenges arise from this premise: explainability and education. An understanding of how people perceive, decide, and learn in a similar context simplifies and informs natural language explanations of algorithmic decisions. Therefore, as neurology and psychology rapidly progress, we should educate and update AI practitioners on those results. Such education will enable us to address representational and cognitive differences, and to build programs that communicate more effectively about their reasoning, their plans, and their confidence in their own computations. At the same time, AAAI should support outreach to the general public to increase understanding of, interest in, and enthusiasm for our work. This is particularly important on the undergraduate level, because today's students are tomorrow's influencers.