How Game Design Principles Can Enhance Democracy

Essay by Adrian Hon: “Gamification — the use of ideas from game design for purposes beyond entertainment — is everywhere. It’s in our smartwatches, cajoling us to walk an extra thousand steps for a digital trophy. It’s in our classrooms, where teachers use apps to reward and punish children with points. And it’s in our jobs, turning the work of Uber drivers and call center staff into quests and missions, where success comes with an achievement and $50 bonus, and failure — well, you can imagine.

Many choose to gamify parts of their lives to make them a little more fun, like learning a new language with Duolingo or going for a run with my own Zombies, Run! app. But the gamification we’re most likely to encounter in our lives is something we have no control over — in our increasingly surveilled and gamified workplaces, for instance, or through the creeping advance of manipulative gamification in financial, insurance, travel and health services.

In my new book, “You’ve Been Played,” I argue that governments must regulate gamification so that it respects workers’ privacy and dignity. Regulators must also ensure that gamified finance apps and video games don’t manipulate users into losing more money than they can afford. Crucially, I believe any gamification intended for schools and colleges must be researched and debated openly before deployment.

But I also believe gamification can strengthen democracies, by designing democratic participation to be accessible and to build consensus. The same game design ideas that have made video games the 21st century’s dominant form of entertainment — adaptive difficulty, responsive interfaces, progress indicators and multiplayer systems that encourage co-operative behaviour — can be harnessed in the service of democracies and civil society…

Fully participating in democracy today — not just voting, but getting involved in local planning and budgeting processes, or building and sharing knowledge — involves navigating increasingly complex systems that desperately need to be made more welcoming and accessible. So while the idea of gamifying democracy may seem to trivialize the deep problems we face today or be another instance of techno-solutionism, that’s not my intention. It’s a recognition that we already live in a digital democracy — one where deliberation takes place on social media that’s gamified to reward and promote the hottest takes and most divisive comments by means of upvotes and karma points; where people learn about the world through the warped lens of conspiracy theories that resemble alternate reality games; and where collective action is enabled and amplified by popularity contests on crowdfunding websites and Reddit.

“The same game design ideas that have made video games the 21st century’s dominant form of entertainment can be harnessed in the service of democracies and civil society.”…(more)”

Working with AI: Real Stories of Human-Machine Collaboration

Book by Thomas H. Davenport and Steven M. Miller: “This book breaks through both the hype and the doom-and-gloom surrounding automation and the deployment of artificial intelligence-enabled—“smart”—systems at work. Management and technology experts Thomas Davenport and Steven Miller show that, contrary to widespread predictions, prescriptions, and denunciations, AI is not primarily a job destroyer. Rather, AI changes the way we work—by taking over some tasks but not entire jobs, freeing people to do other, more important and more challenging work. By offering detailed, real-world case studies of AI-augmented jobs in settings that range from finance to the factory floor, Davenport and Miller also show that AI in the workplace is not the stuff of futuristic speculation. It is happening now to many companies and workers.These cases include a digital system for life insurance underwriting that analyzes applications and third-party data in real time, allowing human underwriters to focus on more complex cases; an intelligent telemedicine platform with a chat-based interface; a machine learning-system that identifies impending train maintenance issues by analyzing diesel fuel samples; and Flippy, a robotic assistant for fast food preparation. For each one, Davenport and Miller describe in detail the work context for the system, interviewing job incumbents, managers, and technology vendors. Short “insight” chapters draw out common themes and consider the implications of human collaboration with smart systems…(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)”.

Platformization of Urban Life

Book edited by Anke Strüver and Sybille Bauriedl: “The increasing platformization of urban life needs critical perspectives to examine changing everyday practices and power shifts brought about by the expansion of digital platforms mediating care-services, housing, and mobility. This book addresses new modes of producing urban spaces and societies. It brings both platform researchers and activists from various fields related to critical urban studies and labour activism into dialogue. The contributors engage with the socio-spatial and normative implications of platform-mediated urban everyday life and urban futures, going beyond a rigid techno-dystopian stance in order to include an understanding of platforms as sites of social creativity and exchange…(More)”.

Proof of Stake

Book by Vitalik Buterin and edited by Nathan Schneider: “The ideas behind Ethereum in the words of its founder, describing a radical vision for more than a digital currency—reinventing organizations, economics, and democracy itself in the age of the internet.

When he was only nineteen years old, in late 2013, Vitalik Buterin published a visionary paper outlining the ideas behind what would become Ethereum. He proposed to take what Bitcoin did for currency—replace government and corporate power with power shared among users—and apply it to everyday apps, organizations, and society as a whole. Now, less than a decade later, Ethereum is the second-most-valuable cryptocurrency and serves as the foundation for the weird new world of NFT artworks, virtual real estate in the metaverse, and decentralized autonomous organizations.

The essays in Proof of Stake have guided Ethereum’s community of radicals and builders. Here for the first time they are collected from across the internet for new readers. They reveal Buterin as a lively, creative thinker, relentlessly curious and adventuresome in exploring the consequences of his invention. His writing stands in contrast to the hype that so often accompanies crypto in the public imagination. He presents it instead as a fascinating set of social, economic, and political possibilities, opening a window into a conversation that far more of us could be having…(More)”.

How to Make an Entrepreneurial State: Why Innovation Needs Bureaucracy

Book by Rainer Kattel, Wolfgang Drechsler and Erkki Karo: “A ground-breaking account which shows how the public sector must adapt, but also persevere, in order to advance technology and innovation

From self-driving cars to smart grids, governments are experimenting with new technologies to significantly change the way we live. Innovation has become vitally important to states across the world.

Rainer Kattel, Wolfgang Drechsler and Erkki Karo explore how public bodies pursue innovation, looking at how new policies are designed and implemented. Spanning Europe, the USA and Asia, the authors show how different institutions finance new technologies and share cutting-edge information. They argue for the importance of ‘agile stability’, demonstrating that in order to successfully innovate, state organizations have to move nimbly like start-ups and yet ensure stability at the same time. And that, particularly in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, governments need both long-term policy and dynamic capabilities to handle crises.

This vital account explores the complex and often contradictory positions of innovating public bodies—and shows how they can overcome financial and political resistance to change for the good of us all…(More)”.

Breakthroughs in Smart City Implementation

Book edited by Leo P. Ligthart and Ramjee Prasad: “Breakthroughs in Smart City Implementation should give answers on a wide variety of present social, political and technological problems. Green and long-lasting solutions are needed in coming 10 years and beyond on areas as green and long lasting solutions for improving air quality, quality of life of residents in cities, traffic congestions and many more.Two Conasense branches, established in China and in India, report in six book chapters on initiatives needed to overcome the obvious shortcomings at present. Three more chapters complete this fifth Conasense book: an introductory chapter concerning Smart City from Conasense perspective, a chapter showing that not technology but the people in the cities are most important and a chapter on recent results and prospects of “Human in the Loop” in smart vehicular systems…(More)”.

Another World Is Possible: How to Reignite Social and Political Imagination

Book by Geoff Mulgan: “As the world confronts the fast catastrophe of Covid and the slow calamity of climate change, we also face a third, less visible emergency: a crisis of imagination. We can easily picture ecological disaster or futures dominated by technology. But we struggle to imagine a world in which people thrive and where we improve our democracy, welfare, neighbourhoods or education. Many are resigned to fatalism—yet they desperately want transformational social change.

This book argues that, although the threats are real, we can use creative imagination to achieve a better future: visualising where we want to go and how to get there. Political and social thinker Geoff Mulgan offers lessons we can learn from the past, and methods we can use now to open up thinking about the future and spark action.

Drawing on social sciences, the arts, philosophy and history, Mulgan shows how we can recharge our collective imagination. From Socrates to Star Wars, he provides a roadmap for the future….(More)”.

Decisions Over Decimals: Striking the Balance between Intuition and Information

Book by Christopher J. Frank, Paul F. Magnone, Oded Netzer: “Agile decision making is imperative as you lead in a data-driven world. Amid streams of data and countless meetings, we make hasty decisions, slow decisions, and often no decisions. Uniquely bridging theory and practice, Decision over Decimals breaks this pattern by uniting data intelligence with human judgment to get to action – a sharp approach the authors refer to as Quantitative Intuition (QI). QI raises the power of thinking beyond big data without neglecting it and chasing the perfect decision while appreciating that such a thing can never really exist….(More)”.

The Technology Fallacy

Book by Gerald C. Kane, Anh Nguyen Phillips, Jonathan R. Copulsky and Garth R. Andrus on “How People Are the Real Key to Digital Transformation:..

Digital technologies are disrupting organizations of every size and shape, leaving managers scrambling to find a technology fix that will help their organizations compete. This book offers managers and business leaders a guide for surviving digital disruptions—but it is not a book about technology. It is about the organizational changes required to harness the power of technology. The authors argue that digital disruption is primarily about people and that effective digital transformation involves changes to organizational dynamics and how work gets done. A focus only on selecting and implementing the right digital technologies is not likely to lead to success. The best way to respond to digital disruption is by changing the company culture to be more agile, risk tolerant, and experimental.

The authors draw on four years of research, conducted in partnership with MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte, surveying more than 16,000 people and conducting interviews with managers at such companies as Walmart, Google, and Salesforce. They introduce the concept of digital maturity—the ability to take advantage of opportunities offered by the new technology—and address the specifics of digital transformation, including cultivating a digital environment, enabling intentional collaboration, and fostering an experimental mindset. Every organization needs to understand its “digital DNA” in order to stop “doing digital” and start “being digital.”

Digital disruption won’t end anytime soon; the average worker will probably experience numerous waves of disruption during the course of a career. The insights offered by The Technology Fallacy will hold true through them all….(More)”.