Everyday Data Cultures


Book by Jean Burgess, Kath Albury, Anthony McCosker, and Rowan Wilken: “The AI revolution can seem powerful and unstoppable, extracting data from every aspect of our lives and subjecting us to unprecedented surveillance and control. But at ground level, even the most advanced ‘smart’ technologies are not as all-powerful as either the tech companies or their critics would have us believe.

From gig worker activism to wellness tracking with sex toys and TikTokers’ manipulation of the algorithm, this book shows how ordinary people are negotiating the datafication of society. The book establishes a new theoretical framework for understanding everyday experiences of data and automation, and offers guidance on the ethical responsibilities we share as we learn to live together with data-driven machines…(More)”.

State of Open Data Policy Repository


The GovLab: “To accompany its State of Open Data Policy Summit, the Open Data Policy Lab announced the release of a new resource to assess recent policy developments surrounding open data, data reuse, and data collaboration around the world: State of Open Data Repository of Recent Developments.

This document examines recent legislation, directives, and proposals that affect open data and data collaboration. Its goal is to capture signals of concerns, direction and leadership as to determine what stakeholders may focus on in the future. The review currently surfaced approximately 50 examples of recent legislative acts, proposals, directives, and other policy documents, from which the Open Data Policy Lab draws findings about the need to promote more innovative policy frameworks.

This collection demonstrates that, while there is growing interest in open data and data collaboration, policy development still remains nascent and focused on open data repositories at the expense of other collaborative arrangements. As we indicated in our report on the Third Wave of Open Data, there is an urgent need for governance frameworks at the local, regional, and national level to facilitate responsible reuse…(More)”.

Digital Self-Determination as a Tool for Migrant Empowerment


Blog by Uma Kalkar, Marine Ragnet, and Stefaan Verhulst: “In 2020, there were an estimated 281 million migrants, accounting for 3.6% of the global population. Migrants move for a variety of reasons: some are forced to flee from unsafe situations caused by conflict or climate change, others voluntarily move in search of new opportunities. People on the move bring along a wealth of new data. This information creates new opportunities for data collection, use, and reuse across the migration process and by a variety of public, private, and humanitarian sectors. Increased access and use of data for migration need to be accompanied by increased agency and the empowerment of the data subjects — a concept called “digital self-determination” (DSD).

The Big Data for Migration Alliance (BD4M) is a multisectoral initiative driven by the IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (IOM-GMDAC), the European Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (KCMD), and The GovLab at New York University. Realizing the need for a paradigm change for data in migration policy, the BD4M and International Network on Digital Self-Determination (IDSD) hosted the first studio as part of its Digital Self-Determination Studio Series

Although DSD is a relatively new concept, its roots stem from philosophy, psychology and human rights jurisprudence. Broadly speaking, DSD affirms that a person’s data is an extension of themselves in cyberspace, and we therefore need to consider how to provide a certain level of autonomy and agency to individuals or communities over their digital self. The first studio sought to deconstruct this concept within the context of migration and migrants. Below we list some of the main takeaways from the studio discussions.

Takeaway #1: DSD is in essence about the power asymmetries between migrants, states, and relevant organizations. Specifically, conversations around DSD centered around “power” and “control” — there is an asymmetry between the migrant and the state or organization they interact with to move within and across borders. These imbalances center around agency (a lack of autonomy over data collection, data consciousness, and data use); choice (in who, how, and where data are used, a lack of transparency over these decisions, and power and control issues faced when seeking to access national or social rights); and participation (who gets to formulate questions and access the data?).

  • Studio participants brought up how structural requirements force migrants to be open about their data; noted the opacity around how data is sourced from migrants; and raised concerns about agency, data literacy, and advocacy across the migrant process.
  • The various hierarchies of power, and how it relates to DSD for migrants, highlighted the discrepancies in power between migrants, the state, private companies, and even NGOs.
  • Information architecture and information asymmetries are some of the central aspects to consider to achieve DSD, suggesting that DSD may relate directly to who is telling the story during a crisis and who has the power to add insights to the narratives being developed. A responsible DSD framework will hinge on the voices of migrants.
  • The right to “data consciousness” was also raised to ensure that vulnerable individuals and groups are aware of when, where, and how data are collected, processed, and stored. Nurturing this awareness helps breed agency around personal data.
Representation of power asymmetries faced by migrants in achieving their DSD.

Takeaway #2: There is a need to understand the dual meaning of DSD.

Takeaway #3: There is a need to engage migrants in needs and expectations.

Takeaway #4: A taxonomy of DSD for the various migration-related steps can support creating effective tools to protect migrants along their journey...

Takeaway #5: DSD can be achieved through policy, technology, and process innovations.

Takeaway #6: DSD opportunities need to be determined across the data life cycle….(More)”.

The Frontlines of Artificial Intelligence Ethics


Book edited by Andrew J. Hampton, and Jeanine A. DeFalco: “This foundational text examines the intersection of AI, psychology, and ethics, laying the groundwork for the importance of ethical considerations in the design and implementation of technologically supported education, decision support, and leadership training.

AI already affects our lives profoundly, in ways both mundane and sensational, obvious and opaque. Much academic and industrial effort has considered the implications of this AI revolution from technical and economic perspectives, but the more personal, humanistic impact of these changes has often been relegated to anecdotal evidence in service to a broader frame of reference. Offering a unique perspective on the emerging social relationships between people and AI agents and systems, Hampton and DeFalco present cutting-edge research from leading academics, professionals, and policy standards advocates on the psychological impact of the AI revolution. Structured into three parts, the book explores the history of data science, technology in education, and combatting machine learning bias, as well as future directions for the emerging field, bringing the research into the active consideration of those in positions of authority.

Exploring how AI can support expert, creative, and ethical decision making in both people and virtual human agents, this is essential reading for students, researchers, and professionals in AI, psychology, ethics, engineering education, and leadership, particularly military leadership…(More)”.

Behavioral Jurisprudence: Law Needs a Behavioral Revolution


Article by Benjamin van Rooij and Adam Fine: “Laws are supposed to protect us. At work, they should eliminate unsafe working conditions and harassment. On our streets, they should curb speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence. And throughout our countries, they should protect citizens against their own governments.

The law is the most important behavioral system we have. Yet it is designed and operated by behavioral novices. Lawyers draft legislation, interpret rules, and create policies, but legal training does not teach them how laws affect human and organizational behavior.

Law needs a behavioral revolution, like the one that rocked the field of economics. There is now a large body of empirical work that calls into question the traditional legal assumptions about how law shapes behavior. This empirical work also offers a path forward. It can help lawyers and others shaping the law understand the law’s behavioral impact and help align its intended influence on behavior to its actual effects.

For instance, the law has traditionally focused on punishment as a means to deal with harmful behavior. Yet there is no conclusive evidence that threats of incarceration or fines reduce misconduct. Most people do not understand or know the law, and thus never come to weigh the law’s incentives in deciding whether to comply with it.

The law also fails to account for the social and moral factors that affect how people interpret and follow it. For instance, social norms—what people see others do or think others hold they should do—can shape what we think the laws say. Research also shows that people are more likely to follow rules they deem legitimate, and that rules that are made and enforced in a procedurally just and fair manner enhance compliance.

And, traditionally, the law has focused on motivational aspects of wrongdoing. But behavioral responses to the law are highly situational. Here, work in criminology, particularly within environmental criminology, shows that criminal opportunities are a chief driver of criminal behavior. Relatedly, when people have their needs met, for instance when they have a livable wage or sufficient schooling, they are more likely to follow the law…(More)”.

How Secure Is Our Data, Really?


Essay by Michael Kende: “Stepping back, a 2019 study showed that 95 percent of such data breaches could have been prevented. There are two main causes of breaches that can be averted.

First, many breaches attack known vulnerabilities in online systems. We are all used to updating the operating system on our computer or phone. One of the reasons is to patch a defect that could allow a breach. But not all of us update each patch all of the time, and that leaves us exposed. Organizations operating hundreds or thousands of devices with different systems connecting them may not devote enough resources to security or may be worried about testing the compatibility of upgrades, and this leaves them exposed to hackers searching for systems that have not been updated. These challenges were exacerbated with employees working from home during pandemic restrictions, often on their own devices with less protected networks.

Second is the phenomenon known as social engineering in which an employee is tricked into providing their password. We have all received phishing emails asking us to log into a familiar site to address an urgent matter. Doing so allows the hacker to capture the user’s email address or user name and the associated password. The hacker can then use that information directly to enter the real version of the website or may find out where else the user may go and hope they use the same login details — which, human nature being what it is, is quite common. These phishing attacks highlight the asymmetric advantage held by the hackers. They can send out millions of emails and just need one person to click on the wrong link to start their attack.

Of course, if 95 percent of breaches are preventable, that means 5 percent are not. For instance, though many breaches result from known vulnerabilities in systems, a vulnerability is by definition unknown before it is discovered. Such a vulnerability, known as zero-day vulnerability, is valuable for hackers because it cannot be defended against, and they are often hoarded or sold, sometimes back to the company responsible so they can create a patch…(More)”.

Wicked Problems in Public Policy: Understanding and Responding to Complex Challenges


Book by Brian W. Head: “…offers the first overview of the ‘wicked problems’ literature, often seen as complex, open-ended, and intractable, with both the nature of the ‘problem’ and the preferred ‘solution’ being strongly contested. It contextualises the debate using a wide range of relevant policy examples, explaining why these issues attract so much attention.
There is an increasing interest in the conceptual and practical aspects of how ‘wicked problems’ are identified, understood and managed by policy practitioners. The standard public management responses to complexity and uncertainty (including traditional regulation and market-based solutions) are insufficient. Leaders often advocate and implement ideological ‘quick fixes’, but integrative and inclusive responses are increasingly being utilised to recognise the multiple interests and complex causes of these problems. This book uses examples from a wide range of social, economic and environmental fields in order to develop new insights about better solutions, and thus gain broad stakeholder acceptance for shared strategies for tackling ‘wicked problems’…(More)”.

Shaping the Future of Small and Medium-Sized Cities: A Framework for Digital Transformation


Report by the World Economic Forum: “Digital transformation is becoming a crucial support mechanism for countries as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and undergo economic rebuilding and sustained development. For small and medium-sized cities (SMCs), digital transformation can disrupt traditional business models, breakthrough geographical and spatial boundaries, and create new ways to live in the digital era. However, the digital transformation of SMCs presents challenges such as insufficient digital talent, funds, and resources, poor understanding and application of digital technologies, and a lack of intercity interaction and cooperation mechanisms. This report analyses the challenges, needs, and concerns of SMCs undergoing digital transformation in China, Japan, Brazil, and Singapore, proposes a methodological reference model, and suggests actions for various urban stakeholders…(More)”.

(When) Do Open Budgets Transform Lives? Progress and Next Steps in Fiscal Openness Research


Paper by Xiao Hui Tai, Shikhar Mehra & Joshua E. Blumenstock: “This paper documents the rapidly growing empirical literature that can plausibly claim to identify causal effects of transparency or participation in budgeting in a variety of contexts. Recent studies convincingly demonstrate that the power of audits travels well beyond the context of initial field-defining studies, consider participatory budgeting beyond Brazil, where such practices were pioneered, and examine previously neglected outcomes, notably revenues and procurement. Overall, the study of the impacts of fiscal openness has become richer and more nuanced. The most well-documented causal effects are positive: lower corruption and enhanced accountability at the ballot box. Moreover, these impacts have been shown to apply across different settings. This research concludes that the empirical case for open government in this policy area is rapidly growing in strength. This paper sets out challenges related to studying national-level reforms; working directly with governments; evaluating systems as opposed to programs; clarifying the relationship between transparency and participation; and understanding trade-offs for reforms in this area….(More)”.

Why Democracy vs. Autocracy Misses the Point


Essay by Jean-Marie Guéhenno: “I have always been a contrarian. I was a contrarian in 1989 when I wrote my first book, criticizing the idea—then widely held—that democracy had triumphed once and for all. And today I find that I’m a contrarian again with my new book, because everybody is talking about the confrontation between democracies and autocracies and I think that’s missing the point.

Something much more important is happening: the revolution of data, the Internet, and artificial intelligence. I believe we are on the cusp of an earthquake in the history of humanity of a kind that happens only once in hundreds of years. The most recent comparison is the Renaissance, and the pace of change today is much quicker than back then.

The institutions we built in the pre-data age are soon going to be completely overwhelmed, and thinking in terms of the old categories of democracies versus autocracies misses all the new challenges that they will have to face. This is a time of great peril as well as great promise, as was the Renaissance—not only the era of Leonard da Vinci, but also a century of religious wars.

The current revolution of data and algorithms is redistributing power in a way that cannot be compared to any historical shift. Traditionally we think of power concentrating in the hands of the leaders of states or big industrial companies. But power, increasingly, is in the hands of algorithms that are tasked (initially by humans) with learning and changing themselves, and evolve in ways we do not predict.

That means the owners of Google or Facebook or Amazon are not the masters of our destiny in the same sense as previous corporate titans. Similarly, while it is true to some extent that data will give dictators unprecedented power to manipulate society, they may also come to be dominated by the evolution of the algorithms on which they depend.

We see already how algorithms are reshaping politics. Social media has created self-contained tribes which do not speak to each other. The most important thing in democracy is not the vote itself, but the process of deliberation before the vote, and social media is quickly fragmenting the common ground on which such deliberations have been built.

How can societies exert control over how algorithms manage data, and whether they foster hatred or harmony? Institutions that are able to control this new power are not yet really in place. What they should look like will be one of the great debates of the future.

I don’t have the answers: I believe no human mind can anticipate the extent of the transformations that are going to happen. Indeed, I think the very notion that you can know today what will be the right institutions for the future is hubristic. The best institutions (and people) will be those that are most adaptable.

However, I believe that one promising approach is to think in terms of the relationship between the logic of knowledge and the logic of democracy. Take central banks as an example. The average citizen does not have a clue about how monetary policy works. Instead we rely on politicians to task the experts at central banks to try achieve a certain goal—it could be full employment, or a stable currency….(More)”.