How to stop our cities from being turned into AI jungles


Stefaan G. Verhulst at The Conversation: “As artificial intelligence grows more ubiquitous, its potential and the challenges it presents are coming increasingly into focus. How we balance the risks and opportunities is shaping up as one of the defining questions of our era. In much the same way that cities have emerged as hubs of innovation in culture, politics, and commerce, so they are defining the frontiers of AI governance.

Some examples of how cities have been taking the lead include the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights, the Montreal Declaration for Responsible AI, and the Open Dialogue on AI Ethics. Others can be found in San Francisco’s ban of facial-recognition technology, and New York City’s push for regulating the sale of automated hiring systems and creation of an algorithms management and policy officer. Urban institutes, universities and other educational centres have also been forging ahead with a range of AI ethics initiatives.

These efforts point to an emerging paradigm that has been referred to as AI Localism. It’s a part of a larger phenomenon often called New Localism, which involves cities taking the lead in regulation and policymaking to develop context-specific approaches to a variety of problems and challenges. We have also seen an increased uptake of city-centric approaches within international law frameworks

Below are ten principles to help systematise our approach to AI Localism. Considered together, they add up to an incipient framework for implementing and assessing initiatives around the world:…(More)”.

E-Government Survey 2022


UN Report: “The United Nations E-Government Survey 2022 is the 12th edition of the United Nations’ assessment of the digital government landscape across all 193 Member States. The E-Government Survey is informed by over two decades of longitudinal research, with a ranking of countries based on the United Nations E-Government Development Index (EGDI), a combination of primary data (collected and owned by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and secondary data from other UN agencies

This edition of the Survey includes data analysis in global and regional contexts, a study of local e-government development based on the United Nations Local Online Service Index (LOSI), consideration of inclusion in the hybrid digital society, and a concluding chapter that outlines the trends and developments related to the future of digital government. As wish all editions, it features extensive annexes on its data, methodology and related pilot study initiatives…(More)”.

OECD Guidelines for Citizen Participation Processes


OECD: “The OECD Guidelines for Citizen Participation Processes are intended for any public official or public institution interested in carrying out a citizen participation process. The guidelines describe ten steps for designing, planning, implementing and evaluating a citizen participation process, and discuss eight different methods for involving citizens: information and data, open meetings, public consultations, open innovation, citizen science, civic monitoring, participatory budgeting and representative deliberative processes. The guidelines are illustrated with examples as well as practical guidance built on evidence gathered by the OECD. Finally, nine guiding principles are presented to help ensure the quality of these processes…(More)”.

Essential Elements and Ethical Principles for Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence Adoption in Courts


Paper by Carlos E. Jimenez-Gomez and Jesus Cano Carrillo: “Tasks in courts have rapidly evolved from manual to digital work. In these innovation processes, theory and practice have demonstrated that adopting technology per se is not the right path. Innovation in courts requires specific plans for digital transformation, including analysis, programmatic changes, or skills. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not an exception.
The use of AI in courts is not futuristic. From efficiency to decision-making support, AI-based tools are already being used by U.S. courts. To cite some examples, AI tools allow the discovery of divergences, disparities, and dissonances in jurisdictional activity. At a higher level, AI helps improve internal organization. AI helps with judicial decision consistency, exploiting a large judicial knowledge base in the form of big data, and it makes the judge’s work more agile with pattern and linguistic recognition in documents, identifying schemes and conceptualizations.

AI could bring considerable benefits to the judicial system. However, the risks and challenges are also
enormous, posing unique hurdles for user trust…

This article defines AI in relation to courts to understand challenges and implications and reviews AI components with a special focus on characteristics of trustworthy AI. It also examines the importance of a new policy and regulatory framework, and makes recommendations to avoid major problems…(More)”

The case for lotteries as a tiebreaker of quality in research funding


Editorial at Nature: “Earlier this month, the British Academy, the United Kingdom’s national academy for humanities and social sciences, introduced an innovative process for awarding small research grants. The academy will use the equivalent of a lottery to decide between funding applications that its grant-review panels consider to be equal on other criteria, such as the quality of research methodology and study design.

Using randomization to decide between grant applications is relatively new, and the British Academy is in a small group of funders to trial it, led by the Volkswagen Foundation in Germany, the Austrian Science Fund and the Health Research Council of New Zealand. The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) has arguably gone the furthest: it decided in late 2021 to use randomization in all tiebreaker cases across its entire grant portfolio of around 880 million Swiss francs (US$910 million).

Other funders should consider whether they should now follow in these footsteps. That’s because it is becoming clear that randomization is a fairer way to allocate grants when applications are too close to call, as a study from the Research on Research Institute in London shows (see go.nature.com/3s54tgw). Doing so would go some way to assuage concerns, especially in early-career researchers and those from historically marginalized communities, about the lack of fairness when grants are allocated using peer review.

The British Academy/Leverhulme small-grants scheme distributes around £1.5 million (US$1.7 million) each year in grants of up to £10,000 each. These are valuable despite their relatively small size, especially for researchers starting out. The academy’s grants can be used only for direct research expenses, but small grants are also typically used to fund conference travel or to purchase computer equipment or software. Funders also use them to spot promising research talent for future (or larger) schemes. For these reasons and more, small grants are competitive — the British Academy says it is able to fund only 20–30% of applications in each funding round…(More)”.

What competencies do public sector officials need to enhance national digital transformations?


Report by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development: “The Broadband Commission Working Group on AI Capacity Building has leveraged a multi-stakeholder leadership model to assess the critical capacity needs for public sector digital transformation, including from a developing country perspective. From interviews with policymakers, global and regional expert consultations and evaluation of current international practices, the Working Group has developed three competency domains and nine recommendations. The output is a competency framework for civil servants, spelling out the Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transformation Competencies needed today…(More)”

New WHO policy requires sharing of all research data


Press release: “Science and public health can benefit tremendously from sharing and reuse of health data. Sharing data allows us to have the fullest possible understanding of health challenges, to develop new solutions, and to make decisions using the best available evidence.

The Research for Health department has helped spearhead the launch of a new policy from the Science Division which covers all research undertaken by or with support from WHO. The goal is to make sure that all research data is shared equitably, ethically and efficiently. Through this policy, WHO indicates its commitment to transparency in order to reach the goal of one billion more people enjoying better health and well-being.

The WHO policy is accompanied by practical guidance to enable researchers to develop and implement a data management and sharing plan, before the research has even started. The guide provides advice on the technical, ethical and legal considerations to ensure that data, even patient data, can be shared for secondary analysis without compromising personal privacy.  Data sharing is now a requirement for research funding awarded by WHO and TDR. 

“We have seen the problems caused by the lack of data sharing on COVID-19,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist. “When data related to research activities are shared ethically, equitably and efficiently, there are major gains for science and public health.”

The policy to share data from all research funded or conducted by WHO, and practical guidance to do so, can be found here…(More)”.

Towards an international data governance framework


Paper by Steve MacFeely et al: “The CCSA argued that a Global Data Compact (GDC) could provide a framework to ensure that data are safeguarded as a global public good and as a resource to achieve equitable and sustainable development. This compact, by promoting common objectives, would help avoid fragmentation where each country or region adopts their own approach to data collection, storage, and use. A coordinated approach would give individuals and enterprises confidence that data relevant to them carries protections and obligations no matter where they are collected or used…

The universal principles and standards should set out the elements of responsible and ethical handling and sharing of data and data products. The compact should also move beyond simply establishing ethical principles and create a global architecture that includes standards and incentives for compliance. Such an architecture could be the foundation for rethinking the data economy, promoting open data, encouraging data exchange, fostering innovation and facilitating international trade. It should build upon the existing canon of international human rights and other conventions, laws and treaties that set out useful principles and compliance mechanisms.

Such a compact will require a new type of global architecture. Modern data ecosystems are not controlled by states alone, so any Compact, Geneva Convention, Commons, or Bretton Woods type agreement will require a multitude of stakeholders and signatories – states, civil society, and the private sector at the very least. This would be very different to any international agreement that currently exists. Therefore, to support a GDC, a new global institution or platform may be needed to bring together the many data communities and ecosystems, that comprise not only national governments, private sector and civil society but also participants in specific fields, such as artificial intelligence, digital and IT services. Participants would maintain and update data standards, oversee accountability frameworks, and support mechanisms to facilitate the exchange and responsible use of data. The proposed Global Digital Compact which has been proposed as part of Our Common Agenda will also need to address the challenges of bringing many different constituencies together and may point the way…(More)”

Innovation in the Public Sector: Smarter States, Services and Citizens


Book by Fatih Demir: “The book discusses smart governments and innovation in the public sector. In hopes of arriving at a clear definition of innovation in the field of public administration, the volume provides a wide survey of global policies and practices, especially those aimed at reducing bureaucracy and using information-communication technologies in public service delivery. Chapters look at current applications across countries and multiple levels of government, from public innovation labs in the UK to AI in South Korea. Providing concrete examples of innovation culture at work in public institutions, this volume will be of use to researchers and students studying new public management, public service delivery, and innovation as well as practitioners and professionals working in various public agencies…(More)”.

A Massive LinkedIn Study Reveals Who Actually Helps You Get That Job


Article by Viviane Callier : “If you want a new job, don’t just rely on friends or family. According to one of the most influential theories in social science, you’re more likely to nab a new position through your “weak ties,” loose acquaintances with whom you have few mutual connections. Sociologist Mark Granovetter first laid out this idea in a 1973 paper that has garnered more than 65,000 citations. But the theory, dubbed “the strength of weak ties,” after the title of Granovetter’s study, lacked causal evidence for decades. Now a sweeping study that looked at more than 20 million people on the professional social networking site LinkedIn over a five-year period finally shows that forging weak ties does indeed help people get new jobs. And it reveals which types of connections are most important for job hunters…Along with job seekers, policy makers could also learn from the new paper. “One thing the study highlights is the degree to which algorithms are guiding fundamental, baseline, important outcomes, like employment and unemployment,” Aral says. The role that LinkedIn’s People You May Know function plays in gaining a new job demonstrates “the tremendous leverage that algorithms have on employment and probably other factors of the economy as well.” It also suggests that such algorithms could create bellwethers for economic changes: in the same way that the Federal Reserve looks at the Consumer Price Index to decide whether to hike interest rates, Aral suggests, networks such as LinkedIn might provide new data sources to help policy makers parse what is happening in the economy. “I think these digital platforms are going to be an important source of that,” he says…(More)”