Brazil hires OpenAI to cut costs of court battles


Article by Marcela Ayres and Bernardo Caram: “Brazil’s government is hiring OpenAI to expedite the screening and analysis of thousands of lawsuits using artificial intelligence (AI), trying to avoid costly court losses that have weighed on the federal budget.

The AI service will flag to government the need to act on lawsuits before final decisions, mapping trends and potential action areas for the solicitor general’s office (AGU).

AGU told Reuters that Microsoft would provide the artificial intelligence services from ChatGPT creator OpenAI through its Azure cloud-computing platform. It did not say how much Brazil will pay for the services.

Court-ordered debt payments have consumed a growing share of Brazil’s federal budget. The government estimated it would spend 70.7 billion reais ($13.2 billion) next year on judicial decisions where it can no longer appeal. The figure does not include small-value claims, which historically amount to around 30 billion reais annually.

The combined amount of over 100 billion reais represents a sharp increase from 37.3 billion reais in 2015. It is equivalent to about 1% of gross domestic product, or 15% more than the government expects to spend on unemployment insurance and wage bonuses to low-income workers next year.

AGU did not provide a reason for Brazil’s rising court costs…(More)”.

Uganda’s Sweeping Surveillance State Is Built on National ID Cards


Article by Olivia Solon: “Uganda has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade on biometric tools that document a person’s unique physical characteristics, such as their face, fingerprints and irises, to form the basis of a comprehensive identification system. While the system is central to many of the state’s everyday functions, as Museveni has grown increasingly authoritarian over nearly four decades in power, it has also become a powerful mechanism for surveilling politicians, journalists, human rights advocates and ordinary citizens, according to dozens of interviews and hundreds of pages of documents obtained and analyzed by Bloomberg and nonprofit investigative newsroom Lighthouse Reports.

It’s a cautionary tale for any country considering establishing a biometric identity system without rigorous checks and balances and input from civil society. Dozens of global south countries have adopted this approach as part of an effort to meet sustainable development goals from the UN, which considers having a legal identity to be a fundamental human right. But, despite billions of dollars of investment, with backing from organizations including the World Bank, those identity systems haven’t always lived up to expectations. In many cases, the key problem is the failure to register large swathes of the population, leading to exclusion from public services. But in other places, like Uganda, inclusion in the system has been weaponized for surveillance purposes.

A year-long investigation by Bloomberg and Lighthouse Reports sheds new light on the ways in which Museveni’s regime has built and deployed this system to target opponents and consolidate power. It shows how the underlying software and data sets are easily accessed by individuals at all levels of law enforcement, despite official claims to the contrary. It also highlights, in some cases for the first time, how senior government and law enforcement officials have used these tools to target individuals deemed to pose a political threat…(More)”.

This City Pilots Web3 Quadratic Funding for Public Infrastructure


Article by Makoto Takahiro: “The city of Split, Croatia is piloting an innovative new system for deciding how to fund municipal infrastructure projects. Called “quadratic funding,” the mechanism aims to fairly account for both public and private preferences when allocating limited budget resources.

A coalition of organizations including BlockSplit, Funding the Commons, Gitcoin, and the City of Split launched the Municipal Quadratic Funding Initiative in September 2023. The project goals include implementing quadratic funding for prioritizing public spending, utilizing web3 tools to increase transparency and participation, and demonstrating the potential of these technologies to improve legacy processes.

If successful, the model could scale to other towns and cities or inspire additional quadratic funding experiments.

The partners believe that the transparency and configurability of blockchain systems make them well-suited to quadratic funding applications.

Quadratic funding mathematically accounts for the intensity of demand for public goods. Groups can create projects which individuals can support financially. The amount of money ultimately directed to each proposal is based on the square of support received. This means that projects attracting larger numbers of smaller contributions can compete with those receiving fewer large donations.

In this way, quadratic funding aims to reflect both willingness to pay and breadth of support in funding decisions. It attempts to break tendency towards corruption where influential groups lobby for their niche interests. The goal is a fairer allocation suited to the whole community’s preferences.

The initiative will build on open source quadratic funding infrastructure already deployed for other uses like funding public goods on Ethereum. Practical web3 tools can help teadministration manage funding rounds and disburse awards…(More)”.

This Chatbot Democratizes Data to Empower India’s Farmers


Article by Abha Malpani Naismith: “…The lack of access to market price information and reliance on intermediaries to sell on their behalf leaves farmers vulnerable to price exploitation and uncertain returns on their investments.

To solve this, Gramhal is building a data cooperative in India where farmers contribute their information to a data ecosystem, which all farmers can leverage for better informed decision-making…

The social enterprise started the project to democratize data first by using the Indian government’s collected data sets from markets and crops across the country. It then built a chatbot (called Bolbhav) and plugged in that data. Soon about 300,000 farmers were accessing this data set via the chatbot on their mobile phones. 

“We spent no money on marketing — this was all just from word of mouth!” Kaleem said. 

gramhal chatbot provides market data for small farmers in India
Gramhal’s Bolbhav chatbot provides farmers with market data so they know how to fairly price their crops. 

However, Gramhal started getting feedback from farmers that the chatbot was giving them prices three days old and what they wanted was real-time, reliable data. “That is when we realized that we need to work with the power of community and think about a societal network framework where every farmer who is selling can contribute to the data and have access to it,” Kaleem explained. “We needed to find a way where the farmer can send price information about what they are selling by uploading their receipts, and we can aggregate that data across markets and share it with them.”

The solution was an upgraded version of the chatbot called Bolbhav Plus, which Gramhal launched in April 2023…(More)”

Data Must Speak: Positive Deviance Research


Report by UNICEF: “Despite the global learning crisis, even in the most difficult contexts, there are some “positive deviant” schools that outperform others in terms of learning, gender equality, and retention. Since 2019, in line with UNICEF’s Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Programme, Data Must Speak (DMS) research identifies these positive deviant schools, explores which behaviours and practices make them outperform others, and investigates how these could be implemented in lower performing schools in similar contexts. DMS research uses a sequential, participatory, mixed-methods approach to improve uptake, replicability, and sustainability. The research is being undertaken in 14 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America…(More)”.

The 5 Stages of Data Must Speak Research

How can Mixed Reality and AI improve emergency medical care?


Springwise: “Mixed reality (MR) refers to technologies that create immersive computer-generated environments in which parts of the physical and virtual environment are combined. With potential applications that range from education and engineering to entertainment, the market for MR is forecast to record revenues of just under $25 billion by 2032. Now, in a ground-breaking partnership, Singapore-based company Mediwave is teaming up with Sri Lanka’s 1990 Suwa Seriya to deploy MR and artificial intelligence (AI) to create a fully connected ambulance.

1990 Suwa Seriya is Sri Lanka’s national pre-hospital emergency ambulance service, which boasts response times that surpass even some services in developed countries. The innovative ambulance it has deployed uses Mediwave’s integrated Emergency Response Suite, which combines the latest communications equipment with internet-of-things (IoT) and AR capabilities to enhance the efficiency of the emergency response eco-system.

The connected ambulance ensures swift response times and digitises critical processes, while specialised care can be provided remotely through a Microsoft HoloLens. The technology enables Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) – staff who man ambulances in Sri Lanka – to connect with physicians at the Emergency Command and Control Centre. These physicians help the EMTs provide care during the so-called ‘golden hour’ of medical emergencies – the concept that rapid clinical investigation and care within 60 minutes of a traumatic injury is essential for a positive patient outcome…

Other applications of extended reality in the Springwise library include holograms that are used to train doctorsvirtual environments for treating phobias, and an augmented reality contact lens…(More)”.

‘Turning conflicts into co-creation’: Taiwan government harnesses digital policy for democracy


Article by  Si Ying Thian: “Assistive intelligence and language models can help facilitate nuanced conversations because the human brain simply cannot process 1,000 different positions, said Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister in charge of the Ministry of Digital Affairs (MODA).  

Tang was speaking at a webinar about policymaking in the digital age, hosted by LSE IDEAS, the think tank of the London School of Economics, on 1 December 2023.  

She cited Talk to the City, a large language model that transforms transcripts from a variety of datasets into clusters of similar opinions, as an example of a technology that has helped increase collaboration and diversity without losing the ability to scale…

“The idea is to establish value-based, long-term collaborations based on the idea of public code. This is evident in many of our government websites, which very much look like the UK’s,” said Tang. 

Public code is defined by Foundation of Public Code as an open-source software developed by public organisations, together with policy and guidance needed for collaboration and reuse…

The government’s commitment to open source is also evident in its rollout of the Taiwan Employment Gold Card, which integrates a flexible work permit, a residence visa for up to three years, and eligibility for national health insurance and income tax reduction.  

According to Tang, the Taiwan government invites anyone with experience of eight years or more in contributing to open source or a Web3 publicly available ledger to enrol in the residency program…(More)”.

Scaling deep through transformative learning in public sector innovation labs – experiences from Vancouver and Auckland


Article by Lindsay Cole & Penny Hagen: “…explores scaling deep through transformative learning in Public Sector Innovation Labs (PSI labs) as a pathway to increase the impacts of their work. Using literature review and participatory action research with two PSI labs in Vancouver and Auckland, we provide descriptions of how they enact transformative learning and scaling deep. A shared ambition for transformative innovation towards social and ecological wellbeing sparked independent moves towards scaling deep and transformative learning which, when compared, offer fruitful insights to researchers and practitioners. The article includes a PSI lab typology and six moves to practice transformative learning and scaling deep…(More)”.

What can harnessing ‘positive deviance’ methods do for food security?


Article by Katrina J. Lane: “What the researchers identified in Niger, in this case, is known as “positive deviance”. It’s a concept that originated in 1991 during a nutrition program in Vietnam run by Save the Children. Instead of focusing on the population level, project managers studied outliers in the system — children who were healthier than their peers despite sharing similar circumstances, and then looked at what the parents of these children did differently.

Once the beneficial practices were identified — in this case, that included collecting wild foods, such as crab, shrimp, and sweet potato tops for their children — they encouraged mothers to tell other parents. Through this outlier-centric approach, the project was able to reduce malnourishment by 74%.

“The positive deviance approach assumes that in every community there are individuals or groups that develop uncommon behaviors or practices which help them cope better with the challenges they face than their peers,” said Boy.

It’s important to be respectful and acknowledge success stories already present in systems, added Duncan Green, a strategic adviser for Oxfam and a professor in practice in international development at the London School of Economics.

Positive deviance emphasizes the benefit of identifying and amplifying these “deviant behaviors”, as they hold the potential to generate scalable solutions that can benefit the entire community.

It can be broken down into three steps: First, identifying high-performing individuals or groups within a challenging context. Next, an investigative process in the community via in-person interviews, group discussions, and questionnaires to find what their behaviors and practices are. Finally, it means encouraging solutions to be spread throughout the community.

In the final stage, the approach relies on community-generated solutions — which Green explains are more likely to propagate and be engaged with…(More)”.

Unlocking the value of supply chain data across industries


MIT Technology Review Insights: “The product shortages and supply-chain delays of the global covid-19 pandemic are still fresh memories. Consumers and industry are concerned that the next geopolitical climate event may have a similar impact. Against a backdrop of evolving regulations, these conditions mean manufacturers want to be prepared against short supplies, concerned customers, and weakened margins.

For supply chain professionals, achieving a “phygital” information flow—the blending of physical and digital data—is key to unlocking resilience and efficiency. As physical objects travel through supply chains, they generate a rich flow of data about the item and its journey—from its raw materials, its manufacturing conditions, even its expiration date—bringing new visibility and pinpointing bottlenecks.

This phygital information flow offers significant advantages, enhancing the ability to create rich customer experiences to satisfying environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) goals. In a 2022 EY global survey of executives, 70% of respondents agreed that a sustainable supply chain will increase their company’s revenue.

For disparate parties to exchange product information effectively, they require a common framework and universally understood language. Among supply chain players, data standards create a shared foundation. Standards help uniquely identify, accurately capture, and automatically share critical information about products, locations, and assets across trading communities…(More)”.