Posts

Research Seminar: Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University

Looking forward to my visit to the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

Date: January 14, 2019

Shaping the Future of Autonomous Systems in Society

Emerging technologies are fundamentally impacting and transforming all aspects of our society. I am particularly concerned with how technological innovations impact 1) the design of our public institutions, 2) the apparatuses through which we shape, implement, and evaluate public policies, and 3) our governance frameworks for public goods. All indications suggest that we are moving toward a world where autonomous systems will dictate how we interface and interact with other agents and objects in our society. We can take advantage of emerging technologies to make our societies more livable, just, resilient, and sustainable. To realize this future, we need active and sustained engagement by scholars across a myriad of disciplines, especially public policy and management.

Public policy and governance scholars have largely been absent when it comes to engineering efforts related to the design and deployment of autonomous systems and policy debates that will shape their impact on our society. In this talk, I will outline why we need active engagement by public policy and management scholars during phases of autonomous systems development and implementation. Examples will be drawn from over a dozen research engagements that have studied emerging technologies in the public sector, from predictive analytic systems to blockchain, social media platforms, and machine learning algorithms. I will outline key governance dilemmas and policy challenges confronting public agencies as they try to keep up with the rapid pace of technological innovations.

Fragile Cities in the Developed World: A Conceptual Framework

J. David Selby (PhD Candidate, School of Public AffairsArizona State University) and I have an article accepted in Cities.

Abstract: Cities, like any complex adaptive systems, may become increasingly fragile if not properly managed. To date, the literature has focused primarily on the examination of cities within fragile countries. This has resulted in a dearth of studies that have looked at how developed (or even advanced) cities that operate in relatively stable countries and/or environments might allow unresolved issues to accumulate in the city: degrading its ability to function. Studying fragility in developed cities is a worthwhile undertaking given their economic, social, and political significance. This paper puts forth a conceptual framework to understand the nature of fragile cities in the developed world. Our framework frames fragility as a function of unresolved fractures of social compacts that degrades a city’s ability to function over time and stress exacerbates its effects. Drawing on over two dozen incidents from developed cities, we ground the framework and illustrate its value.

To download a copy of the paper, please visit SSRN.

 

ICMA Research Fellow 2018-2019

ICMA Press Release (October 23, 2018) - "ICMA has selected its inaugural group of research fellows, recognizing outstanding action-oriented research approaches to deal with local governments’ most pressing issues. Fellowships will fund four thought leaders to study topics ranging from equity measures for managing urban performance to developing successful innovation training programs for local officials, adding to ICMA’s vast knowledge base of research and leading practices in local government leadership and management. "

To read the full press release is available here.

Shanghai Jiao Tong University – Oct 17-29

I will be spending two weeks in China at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. During my visit, I will create research partnerships with colleagues in academia, industry, and the public sector. I will deliver two public lectures during my visit.

Oct 23: Shaping the Future of Autonomous Systems in Society

Emerging technologies are fundamentally impacting and transforming all aspects of our society. I am particularly concerned with how technological innovations impact 1) the design of our public institutions, 2) the apparatuses through which we shape, implement, and evaluate public policies, and 3) our governance frameworks for public goods. All indications suggest that we are moving toward a world where autonomous systems will dictate how we interface and interact with other agents and objects in our society. We can take advantage of emerging technologies to make our societies more livable, just, resilient, and sustainable. To realize this future, we need active and sustained engagement by scholars across a myriad of disciplines, especially public policy and management.

Public policy and governance scholars have largely been absent when it comes to engineering efforts related to the design and deployment of autonomous systems and policy debates that will shape their impact on our society. In this talk, I will outline why we need active engagement by public policy and management scholars during phases of autonomous systems development and implementation. Examples will be drawn from over a dozen research engagements that have studied emerging technologies in the public sector, from predictive analytic systems to blockchain, social media platforms, and machine learning algorithms. I will outline key governance dilemmas and policy challenges confronting public agencies as they try to keep up with the rapid pace of technological innovations.

Oct 27: Digital Governance in a World of Autonomous Systems

Emerging technologies are fundamentally impacting and transforming all aspects of our society. I am particularly concerned with how technological innovations impact 1) the design of our public institutions, 2) the apparatuses through which we shape, implement, and evaluate public policies, and 3) our governance frameworks for public goods. All indications suggest that we are moving toward a world where autonomous systems will dictate how we interface and interact with other agents and objects in our society. We can take advantage of emerging technologies to make our societies more livable, just, resilient, and sustainable. We need bold imagination and action to shape the future we want. This talk will outline how the public sector can take a leadership role in the design, development, and deployment of autonomous systems.

The October 27th take place as part of the 2018 Global Cities Forum.

I hold a distinguished visiting research fellow appointment at the China Institute for Urban Governance at Shanghai Jiao Tong University

IZA – Inst. for Labor Econ. Working Paper – Childcare Reviews on Yelp.com

New working paper available from IZA - Institute for Labor Economics.

What Do Parents Value in a Child Care Provider? Evidence from Yelp Consumer Reviews - IZA Discussion Paper No. 11741. Click here to download.

This paper exploits novel data and empirical methods to examine parental preferences for
child care. Specifically, we analyze consumer reviews of child care businesses posted on the
website Yelp.com. A key advantage of Yelp is that it contains a large volume of unstructured
information about a broad set of child care programs located in demographically and
economically diverse communities. Thus our analysis relies on a combination of theoryand
data-driven methodologies to organize and classify the characteristics of child care
that are assessed by parents. We also use natural language processing techniques to
examine the affect and psychological tones expressed in the reviews. Our main results are
threefold. First, we find that consumers overall are highly satisfied with their child care
provider, although those in higher-income markets are substantially more satisfied than
their counterparts in lower-income markets. Second, the program characteristics most
commonly evaluated by consumers relate to safety, quality of the learning environment,
and child-teacher interactions. However, lower- and higher-income consumers evaluate
different characteristics in their reviews. The former is more likely to comment on a
program’s practical features, such as its pricing and accessibility, while the latter is more
likely to focus on the learning environment. Finally, we find that consumers in lowerincome
markets are more likely to display negative psychological tones such as anxiety and
anger in their reviews, particularly when discussing the nature of their interactions with
program managers and their child’s interactions with teachers.

Mechanics for the Future – Salzburg Global Forum

Credit: Salzburg Global Seminar/Ela Grieshaber.

I am looking forward to participating in the Mechanics for the Future: How Can Governments Transform Themselves? session at the Salzburg Global Forum.

Governments worldwide are under pressure to meet complex needs as populations age, countries urbanize, and technology transforms lives and work. They have lead responsibility to prepare their societies for a radically changing world, yet face shrinking budgets and declining trust in the public sector. The machinery of government has changed, requiring governments to transform themselves, both in terms of the methodology they use and the people needed to implement the change.  What is the role of government in driving innovation?  How can countries and cities learn from each other?  How can governments recruit and retain the best people in public service with the right skills?  How can governments better harness the market, and strengthen constructive partnerships with civil society and the private sector?  What types of public communication work best to rebuild public trust?

See here for a list of attendees.

As part of the meeting, I will be leading a discussion on the potential for advances in artificial intelligence (AI) to transform how we govern. We will employ a case study that I co-authored with Richard T. Watson (Regents Professor and the J. Rex Fuqua Distinguished Chair for Internet Strategy, University of Georgia). The case study takes place in a country, Intelligensia, and is focused on deploying AI systems to modernize the national healthcare system and improve quality of life outcomes.