Matthew Hutson at Science: “Artificial intelligence (AI) used to be the specialized domain of data scientists and computer programmers. But companies such as Wolfram Research, which makes Mathematica, are trying to democratize the field, so scientists without AI skills can harness the technology for recognizing patterns in big data. In some cases, they don’t need to code at all. Insights are just a drag-and-drop away. One of the latest systems is software called Ludwig, first made open-source by Uber in February and updated last week. Uber used Ludwig for projects such as predicting food delivery times before releasing it publicly. At least a dozen startups are using it, plus big companies such as Apple, IBM, and Nvidia. And scientists: Tobias Boothe, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, uses it to visually distinguish thousands of species of flatworms, a difficult task even for experts. To train Ludwig, he just uploads images and labels….(More)”.
Book edited by Masamichi Sasaki: “… deals with conceptual, theoretical and social interaction analyses, historical data on societies, national surveys or cross-national comparative studies, and methodological issues related to trust. The authors are from a variety of disciplines: psychology, sociology, political science, organizational studies, history, and philosophy, and from Britain, the United States, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, and Japan. They bring their vast knowledge from different historical and cultural backgrounds to illuminate contemporary issues of trust and distrust. The socio-cultural perspective of trust is important and increasingly acknowledged as central to trust research. Accordingly, future directions for comparative trust research are also discussed….(More)”.
Report by E&Y: “Unlocking the power of health care data to fuel innovation in medical research and improve patient care is at the heart of today’s health care revolution. When curated or consolidated into a single longitudinal dataset, patient-level records will trace a complete story of a patient’s demographics, health, wellness, diagnosis, treatments, medical procedures and outcomes. Health care providers need to recognize patient data for what it is: a valuable intangible asset desired by multiple stakeholders, a treasure trove of information.
Among the universe of providers holding significant data assets, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) is the single largest integrated health care provider in the world. Its patient records cover the entire UK population from birth to death.
We estimate that the 55 million patient records held by the NHS today may have an indicative market value of several billion pounds to a commercial organization. We estimate also that the value of the curated NHS dataset could be as much as £5bn per annum and deliver around £4.6bn of benefit to patients per annum, in potential operational savings for the NHS, enhanced patient outcomes and generation of wider economic benefits to the UK….(More)”.
Paper by Sjoerd Romme and Albert Meijer: “There is increasing debate about the role that public policy research can play in identifying solutions to complex policy challenges. Most studies focus on describing and explaining how governance systems operate. However, some scholars argue that because current institutions are often not up to the task, researchers need to rethink this ‘bystander’ approach and engage in experimentation and interventions that can help to change and improve governance systems.
This paper contributes to this discourse by developing a design science framework that integrates retrospective research (scientific validation) and prospective research (creative design). It illustrates the merits and challenges of doing this through two case studies in the Netherlands and concludes that a design science framework provides a way of integrating traditional validation-oriented research with intervention-oriented design approaches. We argue that working at the interface between them will create new opportunities for these complementary modes of public policy research to achieve impact….(More)”
Interim Report by the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (UK): The use of algorithms has the potential to improve the quality of decision- making by increasing the speed and accuracy with which decisions are made. If designed well, they can reduce human bias in decision-making processes. However, as the volume and variety of data used to inform decisions increases, and the algorithms used to interpret the data become more complex, concerns are growing that without proper oversight, algorithms risk entrenching and potentially worsening bias.
The way in which decisions are made, the potential biases which they are subject to and the impact these decisions have on individuals are highly context dependent. Our Review focuses on exploring bias in four key sectors: policing, financial services, recruitment and local government. These have been selected because they all involve significant decisions being made about individuals, there is evidence of the growing uptake of machine learning algorithms in the sectors and there is evidence of historic bias in decision-making within these sectors. This Review seeks to answer three sets of questions:
- Data: Do organisations and regulators have access to the data they require to adequately identify and mitigate bias?
- Tools and techniques: What statistical and technical solutions are available now or will be required in future to identify and mitigate bias and which represent best practice?
- Governance: Who should be responsible for governing, auditing and assuring these algorithmic decision-making systems?
Our work to date has led to some emerging insights that respond to these three sets of questions and will guide our subsequent work….(More)”.
Blog by Dirk Holemans: “Imagine: an urban politician wants to insist that some streets become car-free during summer. Even if there are good reasons – better air quality, kids get room to play – the result is quite predictable. The residents of those designated streets would revolt, for different reasons. Some would feel ignored as citizens, others would stand by their right to drive their car to their door, etc. Result: the politician has to withdraw the proposal, disappointed by these negative reactions. So, the gap between politics and people widens further.
But what happens if an independent network of collaborating citizens, businesses and local organisations, supported by the city government, develops a positive narrative for the idea of a Living Street? If they emphasise that a Living Street will be the sustainable place that inhabitants have always dreamed of? What if they offer people who are interested and want to test the idea on their street the possibility to do just that, if they can convince their neighbours to support this potentially great idea? In the city of Ghent we know the answer to this question. Since 2013, in the summer several streets have been transformed into car-free ‘places’ for the community, creating room for picnic benches, playgrounds for children, etc.
The Living Streets is not a top-down project, nor a bottom-up citizens’ initiative. It’s a form of co-creation between residents, the city and other organisations. Residents join forces, get to know each other better and go to work on the challenges of their street (more meeting space, isolation of older residents, traffic, unsafe street layout etc). For the city government, Living Streets are a testing ground for parking solutions, street furniture and the search for new forms of resident participation. The civil servants also roll up their sleeves. They seek solutions, help mediate in conflicts, make their expertise available and translate experiences into new policies.
Living Streets are one of the examples of how the city of Ghent, just as other cities like Bologna and Barcelona, is changing the traditional top-down politics of our modern society. In the latter approach, the provision of services, the introduction of innovations or management of resources, tend to be presented as a stark choice between state organisations or market mechanisms. This binary division ignores a crucial third possibility – that of interventions by autonomous citizens – and underestimates the many possibilities of citizens and (local) authorities working together….(More)”.
Sami Mahroum at Project Syndicate: “…It is more than 500 years since Sir Thomas More found inspiration for the “Kingdom of Utopia” while strolling the streets of Antwerp. So, when I traveled there from Dubai in May to speak about artificial intelligence (AI), I couldn’t help but draw parallels to Raphael Hythloday, the character in Utopia who regales sixteenth-century Englanders with tales of a better world.
As home to the world’s first Minister of AI, as well as museums, academies, and foundations dedicated to studying the future, Dubai is on its own Hythloday-esque voyage. Whereas Europe, in general, has grown increasingly anxious about technological threats to employment, the United Arab Emirates has enthusiastically embraced the labor-saving potential of AI and automation.
There are practical reasons for this. The ratio of indigenous-to-foreign labor in the Gulf states is highly imbalanced, ranging from a high of 67% in Saudi Arabia to a low of 11% in the UAE. And because the region’s desert environment cannot support further population growth, the prospect of replacing people with machines has become increasingly attractive.
But there is also a deeper cultural difference between the two regions. Unlike Western Europe, the birthplace of both the Industrial Revolution and the “Protestant work ethic,” Arab societies generally do not “live to work,” but rather “work to live,” placing a greater value on leisure time. Such attitudes are not particularly compatible with economic systems that require squeezing ever more productivity out of labor, but they are well suited for an age of AI and automation….
Fortunately, AI and data-driven innovation could offer a way forward. In what could be perceived as a kind of AI utopia, the paradox of a bigger state with a smaller budget could be reconciled, because the government would have the tools to expand public goods and services at a very small cost.
The biggest hurdle would be cultural: As early as 1948, the German philosopher Joseph Pieper warned against the “proletarianization” of people and called for leisure to be the basis for culture. Westerners would have to abandon their obsession with the work ethic, as well as their deep-seated resentment toward “free riders.” They would have to start differentiating between work that is necessary for a dignified existence, and work that is geared toward amassing wealth and achieving status. The former could potentially be all but eliminated.
With the right mindset, all societies could start to forge a new AI-driven social contract, wherein the state would capture a larger share of the return on assets, and distribute the surplus generated by AI and automation to residents. Publicly-owned machines would produce a wide range of goods and services, from generic drugs, food, clothes, and housing, to basic research, security, and transportation….(More)”.
Guidance: “The Government Digital Service (GDS) and the Office for Artificial Intelligence (OAI) have published joint guidance on how to build and use artificial intelligence (AI) in the public sector.
This guidance covers how:
- to assess if using AI will help you meet user needs
- the public sector can best use AI
- to implement AI ethically, fairly and safely…(More)”
National Audit Office (UK): “Data is crucial to the way government delivers services for citizens, improves its own systems and processes, and makes decisions. Our work has repeatedly highlighted the importance of evidence-based decision-making at all levels of government activity, and the problems that arise when data is inadequate.
Government recognises the value of using data more effectively, and the importance of ensuring security and public trust in how it is used. It plans to produce a new national data strategy in 2020 to position “the UK as a global leader on data, working collaboratively and openly across government”.
To achieve its ambitions government will need to resolve fundamental challenges around how to use and share data safely and appropriately, and how to balance competing demands on public resources in a way that allows for sustained but proportionate investment in data. The future national data strategy provides the government with an opportunity to do this, building on the renewed interest and focus on the use of data within government and beyond.
Content and scope of the report
This report sets out the National Audit Office’s experience of data across government, including initial efforts to start to address the issues. From our past work we have identified three areas where government needs to establish the pre-conditions for success: clear strategy and leadership; a coherent infrastructure for managing data; and broader enablers to safeguard and support the better use of data. In this report we consider:
- the current data landscape across government (Part One);
- how government needs a clear plan and leadership to improve its use of data (Part Two);
- the quality, standards and systems needed to use data effectively (Part Three); and
- wider conditions and enablers for success (Part Four).
Past examples such as Windrush and Carer’s Allowance show how important good‑quality data is, and the consequences if not used well. Without accurate, timely and proportionate data, government will not be able get the best use out of public money or take the next step towards more sophisticated approaches to using data that can reap real rewards.
But despite years of effort and many well-documented failures, government has lacked clear and sustained strategic leadership on data. This has led to departments under-prioritising their own efforts to manage and improve data. There are some early signs that the situation is improving, but unless government uses the data strategy to push a sea change in strategy and leadership, it will not get the right processes, systems and conditions in place to succeed, and this strategy will be yet another missed opportunity….(More)”.
Theo Bass at Nesta: “This report outlines how digital tools and methods can help select committees restore public trust in democracy, reinvigorate public engagement in Parliament and enhance the work of committees themselves.
Since their establishment in 1979, select committees have provided one of our most important democratic functions. At their best, committees gather available evidence, data and insight; tap into public experiences and concerns; provide a space for thoughtful deliberation; and help parliament make better decisions. However, the 40th anniversary of select committees presents an important opportunity to re-examine this vital parliamentary system to ensure they are fit for the 21st century.
Since 2012 select committees have committed to public engagement as a ‘core task’ of their work, but their approach has not been systematic and they still struggle to reach beyond the usual suspects, or find ways to gather relevant knowledge quickly and effectively. With public trust in democracy deteriorating, the imperative to innovate, improve legitimacy and find new ways to involve people in national politics is stronger than ever. This is where digital innovation can help.
If used effectively, digital tools and methods offer select committees the opportunity to be more transparent and accessible to a wider range of people, improving relevance and impact. Like any good public engagement, this needs careful design, without which digital participation risks being distorting and unhelpful, amplifying the loudest or least informed voices.
To achieve success, stronger ambition and commitment by senior staff and MPs, as well as experimentation and learning through trial and improvement will be essential. We recommend that the UK Parliament commits to running at least five pilots for digital participation, which we outline in more detail in the final section of this report….(More)”.