Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions

Press Release: “In an increasingly challenging environment – marked by successive economic shocks, rising protectionism, the war in Europe and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, as well as structural challenges and disruptions caused by rapid technological developments, climate change and population aging – 44% of respondents now have low or no trust in their national government, surpassing the 39% of respondents who express high or moderately high trust in national government, according to a new OECD report.  

OECD Survey on Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions – 2024 Results, presents findings from the second OECD Trust Survey, conducted in October and November 2023 across 30 Member countries. The biennial report offers a comprehensive analysis of current trust levels and their drivers across countries and public institutions. 

This edition of the Trust Survey confirms the previous finding that socio-economic and demographic factors, as well as a sense of having a say in decision making, affect trust. For example, 36% of women reported high or moderately high trust in government, compared to 43% of men. The most significant drop in trust since 2021 is seen among women and those with lower levels of education. The trust gap is largest between those who feel they have a say and those who feel they do not have a say in what the government does. Among those who report they have a say, 69% report high or moderately high trust in their national government, whereas among those who feel they do not only 22% do…(More)”.

Big Tech-driven deliberative projects

Report by Canning Malkin and Nardine Alnemr: “Google, Meta, OpenAI and Anthropic have commissioned projects based on deliberative democracy. What was the purpose of each project? How was deliberation designed and implemented, and what were the outcomes? In this Technical Paper, Malkin and Alnemr describe the commissioning context, the purpose and remit, and the outcomes of these deliberative projects. Finally, they offer insights on contextualising projects within the broader aspirations of deliberative democracy…(More)”.

Diversity in Artificial Intelligence Conferences

Report by the divinAI (Diversity in Artificial Intelligence) Project: “…provides a set of diversity indicators for seven core artificial intelligence (AI) conferences from 2007 to 2023: the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI), the Annual Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Conference, the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) Conference, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Recommender Systems (RecSys) Conference, the European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI) and the European Conference on Machine Learning/Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases (ECML/PKDD) .
We observe that, in general, Conference Diversity Index (CDI) values are still low for the selected conferences, although showing a slight temporal improvement thanks to diversity initiatives in the AI field. We also note slight differences between conferences, being RecSys the one with higher comparative diversity indicators, followed by general AI conferences (IJCAI, ECAI and AAAI). The selected Machine Learning conferences NeurIPS and ICML seem to provide lower values for diversity indicators.
Regarding the different dimensions of diversity, gender diversity reflects a low proportion of female authors in all considered conferences, even given current gender diversity efforts in the field, which is in line with the low presence of women in technological fields. In terms of country distribution, we observe a notable presence of researchers from the EU, US and China in the selected conferences, where the presence of Chinese authors has increased in the last few years. Regarding institutions, universities and research centers or institutes play a central role in the AI scientific conferences under analysis, and the presence of industry seems to be more notable in machine learning conferences. An online dashboard that allows exploration and reproducibility complements the report…(More)”.

What does a ‘mission-driven’ approach to government mean and how can it be delivered?

Report by the Institute for Government and Nesta: “… set out a recommended approach for how government could effectively organise itself to deliver missions. It should act as a guide for public servants at the start of a new administration that has pledged to do things differently.

Missions are designed to set bold visions for change, inspiring collaboration across the system and society to break down silos and work towards a common goal. They represent the ultimate purpose of the Government, and the story it aims to tell by the end of the Parliament.

To succeed, government will need to adopt three key roles: driving public service innovation, shaping markets and harnessing collective intelligence to improve decision-making. Achieving these missions will require strong foundations and well-recognised enablers of good government, pursued in a specific manner to bring about a cultural change in Whitehall…(More)”.

Against Elections: The Lottocratic Alternative

Paper by Alexander A. Guerrero: “It is widely accepted that electoral representative democracy is better — along a number of different normative dimensions — than any other alternative lawmaking political arrangement. It is not typically seen as much of a competition: it is also widely accepted that the only legitimate alternative to electoral representative democracy is some form of direct democracy, but direct democracy — we are told — would lead to bad policy. This article makes the case that there is a legitimate alternative system — one that uses lotteries, not elections, to select political officials — that would be better than electoral representative democracy. Part I diagnoses two significant failings of modern-day systems of electoral representative government: the failure of responsiveness and the failure of good governance. The argument offered suggests that these flaws run deep, so that even significant and politically unlikely reforms with respect to campaign finance and election law would make little difference. Although my distillation of the argument is novel, the basic themes will likely be familiar. I anticipate the initial response to the argument may be familiar as well: the Churchillian shrug. Parts II, III, and IV of this article represent the beginning of an effort to move past that response, to think about alternative political systems that might avoid some of the problems with the electoral representative system without introducing new and worse problems. In the second and third parts of the article, I outline an alternative political system, the lottocratic system, and present some of the virtues of such a system. In the fourth part of the article, I consider some possible problems for the system. The overall aims of this article are to raise worries for electoral systems of government, to present the lottocratic system and to defend the view that this system might be a normatively attractive alternative, removing a significant hurdle to taking a non-electoral system of government seriously as a possible improvement to electoral democracy…(More)”

The Digital Economy Report 2024

Report by UNCTAD: “…underscores the urgent need for environmentally sustainable and inclusive digitalization strategies.

Digital technology and infrastructure depend heavily on raw materials, and the production and disposal of more and more devices, along with growing water and energy needs are taking an increasing toll on the planet.

For example, the production and use of digital devices, data centres and information and communications technology (ICT) networks account for an estimated 6% to 12% of global electricity use.

Developing countries bear the brunt of the environmental costs of digitalization while reaping fewer benefits. They export low value-added raw materials and import high value-added devices, along with increasing digital waste. Geopolitical tensions over critical minerals, abundant in many of these countries, complicate the challenges.

The report calls for bold action from policymakers, industry leaders and consumers. It urges a global shift towards a circular digital economy, focusing on circularity by design through durable products, responsible consumption, reuse and recycling, and sustainable business models…(More)”.

Fixing frictions: ‘sludge audits’ around the world

OECD Report: “Governments worldwide are increasingly adopting behavioural science methodologies to address “sludge” – the unjustified frictions impeding people’ access to government services and exacerbating psychological burdens. Sludge audits, grounded in behavioural science, provide a structured approach for identifying, quantifying, and preventing sludge in public services and government processes. This document delineates Good Practice Principles, derived from ten case studies conducted during the International Sludge Academy, aimed at promoting the integration of sludge audit methodologies into public governance and service design. By enhancing government efficiency and bolstering public trust in government, these principles contribute to the broader agenda on administrative simplification, digital services, and public sector innovation…(More)”.

The Economic Case for Reimagining the State

Report by the Tony Blair Institute: “The new government will need to lean in to support the diffusion of AI-era tech across the economy by adopting a pro-innovation, pro-technology stance, as advocated by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change in our paper Accelerating the Future: Industrial Strategy in the Era of AI.

AI-era tech can also transform public services, creating a smaller, lower-cost state that delivers better outcomes for citizens. New TBI analysis suggests:

  • Adoption of AI across the public-sector workforce could save around one-fifth of workforce time at a comparatively low cost. If the government chooses to bank these time savings and reduce the size of the workforce, this could result in annual net savings of £10 billion per year by the end of this Parliament and £34 billion per year by the end of the next – enough to pay for the entire defence budget.
  • AI-era tech also offers significant potential to improve the UK’s health services. We envisage a major expansion of the country’s preventative-health-care system, including: a digital health record for every citizen; improved access to health checks online, at home and on the high street; and a wider rollout of preventative treatments across the population. This programme could lead to the triple benefit of a healthier population, a healthier economy (with more people in work) and healthier public finances (since more workers mean more tax revenues). Even a narrow version of this programme – focused only on cardiovascular disease – could lead to 70,000 more people in work and generate net savings to the Exchequer worth £600 million by the end of this parliamentary term, and £1.2 billion by the end of the next. Much larger gains are possible – worth £6 billion per year by 2040 – if medical treatments continue to advance and the programme expands to cover a wider range of conditions, including obesity and cancer.
  • Introducing a digital ID could significantly improve the way that citizens interact with government, in terms of saving them time, easing access and creating a more personalised service. A digital ID could also generate a net gain of about £2 billion per year for the Exchequer by helping to reduce benefit fraud, improve the efficiency of tax-revenue collection and better target welfare payments in a crisis. Based on international experience, we think it is achievable for the government to implement a digital ID within three years and generate cumulative net savings of almost £4 billion during this Parliament, and nearly £10 billion during the next term.
  • AI could also lead to a 6 per cent boost in educational attainment by helping to improve the quality of teaching, save teacher time and improve the ability of students to absorb lesson content. These gains would take time to materialise but could eventually raise UK GDP by up to 6 per cent in the long run and create more than £30 billion in fiscal space per year.

The four public-sector use cases outlined above could create substantial fiscal savings for the new government worth £12 billion a year (0.4 per cent of GDP) by the end of this parliamentary term, £37 billion (1.3 per cent of GDP) by the end of the next, and more than £40 billion (1.5 per cent of GDP) by 2040…(More)”.

Citizen engagement

European Union Report: “…considers how to approach citizen engagement for the EU missions. Engagement and social dialogue should aim to ensure that innovation is human-centred and that missions maintain wide public legitimacy. But citizen engagement is complex and significantly changes the traditional responsibilities of the research and innovation community and calls for new capabilities. This report provides insights to build these capabilities and explores effective ways to help citizens understand their role within the EU missions, showing how to engage them throughout the various stages of implementation. The report considers both the challenges and administrative burdens of citizen engagement and sets out how to overcome them, as well as demonstrated the wider opportunity of “double additionality” where citizen engagement methods serve to fundamentally transform an entire research and innovation portfolio…(More)”.