Content Gazette - June 2020 - Cover2

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE
Ahmed Tewfik | IEEE Signal Processing Society President | tewfik@austin.utexas.edu

The Year of Living Dangerously

I

am writing this column on the first official day of spring while "sheltering in
place" in Northern California. In these
uncertain times, we are all experiencing
the anxiety that comes from an unpredictable situation that we do not control;
the shock of seeing, perhaps for the first
time, all of the shelves in grocery stores
empty; and the stress of working, living,
and sleeping in the same place. For some
of us, the situation is more dire as we are
anguishing over whether we will have
food for our children and ourselves next
month or as we are fighting for the lives
of our loved ones or even our own. I sincerely hope and pray that by the time you
read this column in May, the situation will
have dramatically improved for all of us.
My term as Society president started
1 January 2020. Two days later, on Friday, 3 January, I received an email from
the presidents of three other IEEE Societies informing me that we had 48 h to
decide whether we would like to be part
of the proposed IEEE Transactions on
Artificial Intelligence (TAI). What followed was a series of frantic conference
calls and hard negotiations across time
zones. By mid-January, we were officially an equal comanager and junior
financial co-owner of the new transactions. The official proposal was approved by the IEEE Technical Activities
Board (TAB) Finance Committee shortly thereafter and by the TAB publication
board in mid-February. I was impressed
by the nimbleness of our Society during
these frantic times and the pragmatic at-

Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MSP.2020.2976401
Date of current version: 28 April 2020

ICASSP. This was the first of many, and
titude of our executive committee and
at times daily, meetings that culminated
senior staff, who were laser focused
in our decision to shift two conferencon future opportunities and the expanes-ICASSP 2020 (4-8 May in Barcesion of our scope and reach. I was also
lona, Spain) and ISBI 2020 (3-7 April
proud of the fact that a little over 17% of
in Iowa City, United States)-to fully
all IEEE journal articles on AI and mavirtual events. Moreover, we made the
chine learning, excluding IEEE Access,
decision to give our conference board
are published in our Society's transacand vice president (VP) conferences the
tions. The episode also revealed systemauthority to cancel,
ic weaknesses in our
postpone, or shift to
Society, in particular
Thanks to the efforts of
virtual all workshops
when it comes to anour staff, the meeting
a nd con fer enc es
ticipating or identifywas attended by experts
scheduled between
ing emerging IEEE
March and August
initiatives, or articufrom IEEE Meetings,
2020. Finally, we also
lating, and taking
Conferences, and
suspended all Disthe lead in, emerging
Events, including
tinguished Lecturer
high-impact technical
experts on conference
and Distinguished Infields. These weakinsurance policies.
dustry Speaker talks
nesses are being idenand events at least
tified, discussed, and
through the end of May to minimize
addressed by several of you serving
travel and avoid large gatherings.
on our executive committee and variAs you read this column, it will apous boards. I look forward to sharing
pear to you, as it is clear to me today as
the culmination of these efforts in my
I write it, that these decisions were obvinext column.
ous and that the Society had no choice
On 13 February, a day after we celin making these decisions. The reality
ebrated the approval of the new transthough is that these were very difficult
actions on AI, the Society held its first
decisions to make because of the dearth
critical meeting on the rapidly deteof timely information and rapidly evolvriorating COVID-19 situation. Thanks
ing circumstances. Some of us concludto the efforts of our staff, the meeting
ed by the first week of March that we had
was attended by experts from IEEE
no choice but shift the events to virtual,
Meetings, Conferences, and Events,
anticipating the deteriorating situation.
including experts on conference insurOthers at the time were still clinging to
ance policies. At the meeting, we formuthe hope that we would be able to hold
lated and began to implement several
hybrid physical-virtual meetings or postcontingency plans that took into account
pone the conferences. We were couna number of potential scenarios, includseled to wait a little longer to maximize
ing the hitherto unthinkable possibility
our chances of recovering some of our
of canceling our flagship conference,

www.signalprocessingsociety.org

[cov2]

JUNE 2020


http://www.signalprocessingsociety.org

Content Gazette - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Content Gazette - June 2020

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