The AI Powered State: What can we learn from China’s approach to public sector innovation?


Essay collection edited by Nesta: “China is striding ahead of the rest of the world in terms of its investment in artificial intelligence (AI), rate of experimentation and adoption, and breadth of applications. In 2017, China announced its aim of becoming the world leader in AI technology by 2030. AI innovation is now a key national priority, with central and local government spending on AI estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars.

While Europe and the US are also following AI strategies designed to transform the public sector, there has been surprisingly little analysis of what practical lessons can be learnt from China’s use of AI in public services. Given China’s rapid progress in this area, it is important for the rest of the world to pay attention to developments in China if it wants to keep pace.

This essay collection finds that examining China’s experience of public sector innovation offers valuable insights for policymakers. Not everything is applicable to a western context – there are social, political and ethical concerns that arise from China’s use of new technologies in public services and governance – but there is still much that can be learned from its experience while also acknowledging what should be criticized and avoided….(More)”.

The Computermen


Podcast Episode by Jill Lepore: “In 1966, just as the foundations of the Internet were being imagined, the federal government considered building a National Data Center. It would be a centralized federal facility to hold computer records from each federal agency, in the same way that the Library of Congress holds books and the National Archives holds manuscripts. Proponents argued that it would help regulate and compile the vast quantities of data the government was collecting. Quickly, though, fears about privacy, government conspiracies, and government ineptitude buried the idea. But now, that National Data Center looks like a missed opportunity to create rules about data and privacy before the Internet took off. And in the absence of government action, corporations have made those rules themselves….(More)”.

Panopticon Reborn: Social Credit as Regulation for the Age of AI


Paper by Kevin Werbach: “Technology scholars, policy-makers, and executives in Europe and the United States disagree violently about what the digitally connected world should look like. They agree on what it shouldn’t: the Orwellian panopticon of China’s Social Credit System (SCS). SCS is a government-led initiative to promote data-driven compliance with law and social values, using databases, analytics, blacklists, and software applications. In the West, it is widely viewed as a diabolical effort to crush any spark of resistance to the dictates of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its corporate emissaries. This picture is, if not wholly incorrect, decidedly incomplete. SCS is the world’s most advanced prototype of a regime of algorithmic regulation. It is a sophisticated and comprehensive effort not only to expand algorithmic control, but also to restrain it. Understanding China’s system is crucial for resolving the great challenges we face in the emerging era of relentless data aggregation, ubiquitous analytics, and algorithmic control….(More)”.

The “Social” Side of Big Data: Teaching BD Analytics to Political Science Students


Case report by Giampiero Giacomello and Oltion Preka: “In an increasingly technology-dependent world, it is not surprising that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) graduates are in high demand. This state of affairs, however, has made the public overlook the case that not only computing and artificial intelligence are naturally interdisciplinary, but that a huge portion of generated data comes from human–computer interactions, thus they are social in character and nature. Hence, social science practitioners should be in demand too, but this does not seem the case. One of the reasons for such a situation is that political and social science departments worldwide tend to remain in their “comfort zone” and see their disciplines quite traditionally, but by doing so they cut themselves off from many positions today. The authors believed that these conditions should and could be changed and thus in a few years created a specifically tailored course for students in Political Science. This paper examines the experience of the last year of such a program, which, after several tweaks and adjustments, is now fully operational. The results and students’ appreciation are quite remarkable. Hence the authors considered the experience was worth sharing, so that colleagues in social and political science departments may feel encouraged to follow and replicate such an example….(More)”

The Atlas of Inequality and Cuebiq’s Data for Good Initiative


Data Collaborative Case Study by Michelle Winowatan, Andrew Young, and Stefaan Verhulst: “The Atlas of Inequality is a research initiative led by scientists at the MIT Media Lab and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. It is a project within the larger Human Dynamics research initiative at the MIT Media Lab, which investigates how computational social science can improve society, government, and companies. Using multiple big data sources, MIT Media Lab researchers seek to understand how people move in urban spaces and how that movement influences or is influenced by income. Among the datasets used in this initiative was location data provided by Cuebiq, through its Data for Good initiative. Cuebiq offers location-intelligence services to approved research and nonprofit organizations seeking to address public problems. To date, the Atlas has published maps of inequality in eleven cities in the United States. Through the Atlas, the researchers hope to raise public awareness about segregation of social mobility in United States cities resulting from economic inequality and support evidence-based policymaking to address the issue.

Data Collaborative Model: Based on the typology of data collaborative practice areas developed by The GovLab, the use of Cuebiq’s location data by MIT Media Lab researchers for the Atlas of Inequality initiative is an example of the research and analysis partnership model of data collaboration, specifically a data transfer approach. In this approach, companies provide data to partners for analysis, sometimes under the banner of “data philanthropy.” Access to data remains highly restrictive, with only specific partners able to analyze the assets provided. Approved uses are also determined in a somewhat cooperative manner, often with some agreement outlining how and why parties requesting access to data will put it to use….(More)”.

The Responsible Data for Children (RD4C) Case Studies


Andrew Young at Datastewards.net: “This week, as part of the Responsible Data for Children initiative (RD4C), the GovLab and UNICEF launched a new case study series to provide insights on promising practice as well as barriers to realizing responsible data for children.

Drawing upon field-based research and established good practice, RD4C aims to highlight and support responsible handling of data for and about children; identify challenges and develop practical tools to assist practitioners in evaluating and addressing them; and encourage a broader discussion on actionable principles, insights, and approaches for responsible data management.

RD4C launched in October 2019 with the release of the RD4C Synthesis ReportSelected Readings, and the RD4C Principles: Purpose-Driven, People-Centric, Participatory, Protective of Children’s Rights, Proportional, Professionally Accountable, and Prevention of Harms Across the Data Lifecycle.

The RD4C Case Studies analyze data systems deployed in diverse country environments, with a focus on their alignment with the RD4C Principles. This week’s release includes case studies arising from field missions to Romania, Kenya, and Afghanistan in 2019. The data systems examined are:

Collaborative Е-Rulemaking, Democratic Bots, and the Future of Digital Democracy


Essay by Oren Perez: “This article focuses on “deliberative e-rulemaking”: digital consultation processes that seek to facilitate public deliberation over policy or regulatory proposals [1, 2]. The main challenge of е-rulemaking platforms is to support an “intelligent” deliberative process that enables decision makers to identify a wide range of options, weigh the relevant considerations, and develop epistemically responsible solutions.

This article discusses and critiques two approaches to this challenge: The Cornell Regulation Room project and model of computationally assisted regulatory participation by Livermore et al. It then proceeds to explore two alternative approaches to e-rulemaking: One is based on the implementation of collaborative, wiki-styled tools. This article discusses the findings of an experiment, which was conducted at Bar-Ilan University and explored various aspects of a wiki-based collaborative е-rulemaking system. The second approach follows a more futuristic Approach, focusing on the potential development of autonomous, artificial democratic agents. This article critically discusses this alternative, also in view of the recent debate regarding the idea of “augmented democracy.”…(More)”.

Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP): Improving Drug Research Efficiency through Biomarker Data Sharing


Data Collaborative Case Study by Michelle Winowatan, Andrew Young, and Stefaan Verhulst: “Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) is a cross-sector data-sharing partnership in the United States between the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), multiple biopharmaceutical and life science companies, as well as non-profit organizations that seeks to improve the efficiency of developing new diagnostics and treatments for several types of disease. To achieve this goal, the partnership created a pre-competitive collaborative ecosystem where the biomedical community can pool data and resources that are relevant to the prioritized disease areas. A key component of the partnership is to make biomarkers data available to the medical research community through online portals.

Data Collaboratives Model: Based on our typology of data collaborative models, AMP is an example of the data pooling model of data collaboration, specifically a public data pool. Public data pools co-mingle data assets from multiple data holders — in this case pharmaceutical companies — and make those shared assets available on the web. Pools often limit contributions to approved partners (as public data pools are not crowdsourcing efforts), but access to the shared assets is open, enabling independent re-uses.

Data Stewardship Approach: Data stewardship is built into the partnership through the establishment of an executive committee, which governs the entire partnership, and a steering committee for each disease area, which governs each of the sub-projects within AMP. These committees consist of representatives from the institutional partners involved in AMP and perform data stewards function including enabling inter-institutional engagement as well as intra-institutional coordination, data audit and assessment of value and risk, communication of findings, and nurture the collaboration to sustainability….(Full Case Study)”.

Crosscope


Crosscope is revolutionizing the way practitioners and researchers are leveraging digital pathology to share and solve medical cases.

Since the 1900s cancer diagnosis has been limited to the subjective interpretation of what the pathologist could see under a microscope. To transform the way we perform pathology and cancer research, we are developing new tools to leverage powerful AI & perspectives of medical experts at the same time.

At Crosscope, we are building a place for the convergence of collective intelligence of our massive online medical community and AI. We are commited to developing cutting edge AI tools for better decision support in cancer care. We aim to be the largest database for tagged histopathology images which will contain a lot more information than genomics alone and will be crucial in early diagnosis of cancer….(More)”.

Pitfalls of Aiming to Empower the Bottom from the Top: The Case of Philippine Participatory Budgeting


Paper by Joy Aceron: “… explains why and how a reform program that opened up spaces for participatory budgeting was ultimately unable to result in pro-citizen power shifts that transformed governance. The study reviews the design and implementation of Bottom-Up Budgeting (BuB), the nationwide participatory budgeting (PB) program in the Philippines, which ran from 2012 to 2016 under the Benigno Aquino government. The findings underscore the importance of institutional design to participatory governance reforms. BuB’s goal was to transform local government by providing more space for civil society organizations (CSOs) to co-identify projects with the government and to take part in the budgeting process, but it did not strengthen CSO or grassroots capacity to hold their Local Government Units (LGUs) accountable.

The BuB design had features that delivered positive gains towards citizen empowerment, including: (1) providing equal seats for CSOs in the Local Poverty Reduction Action Team (LPRAT), which are formally mandated to select proposed projects (in contrast to the pre-existing Local Development Councils (LDCs), which have only 25 percent CSO representation); (2) CSOs identified their LPRAT representatives themselves (as opposed to local chief executives choosing CSO representatives, as in the LDCs); and (3) LGUs were mandated to follow participatory requirements to receive additional funding. However, several aspects of the institutional design shifted power from local governments to the central government. This had a “centralizing effect”…

This study argues that because of these design problems, BuB fell short in achieving its main political reform agenda of empowering the grassroots—particularly in enabling downward accountability that could have enabled lasting pro-citizen power shifts. It did not empower local civil society and citizens to become a countervailing force vis-à-vis local politicians in fiscal governance. BuB is a case of a reform that provided a procedural mechanism for civil society input into national agency decisions but was unable to improve government responsiveness. It provided civil society with ‘voice’, but was constrained in enabling ‘teeth’. Jonathan Fox (2014) refers to “voice” as citizen inputs, feedback and action, while “teeth” refer to the capacity of the state to respond to voice.

Finally, the paper echoes the results of other studies which find that PB programs become successful when complemented by other institutional and state democratic capacity-building reforms and when they are part of a broader progressive change agenda. The BuB experience suggests that to bolster citizen oversight, it is essential to invest sufficient support and resources in citizen empowerment and in creating an enabling environment for citizen oversight….(More)”.