The rise of AIs interfacing with humans, bot wars, and a more efficient board meeting — This Week’s Top 10 Reads from a Chief Innovation Officer

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Each week, I read over 100 articles so you don’t have to — Here are the top 10 you should read over the weekend and why they matter for government. Let’s dive in —

The Articles —

Out of over 100 articles, here are the top 10 that stood out this week:

📞 Google Assistant will soon be able to make calls to book your appointment https://engt.co/2I10Uen

🚛 Why self-driving trucks will take over before self-driving cars http://bit.ly/2rtYafk

🗺 For a truly ‘smart’ city, you need a ‘geographic action system’ https://wapo.st/2jySGeY (H/T Herman Chandi)

🛣 The Transportation Problem No One Is Talking About http://bit.ly/2KHxOPd

🤖 There’s a growing problem of bots fighting each other online http://bit.ly/2I8tjPY

💡 This company hopes its cryptocurrency can help the internet of things reach its true potential http://bit.ly/2G2i0Tv

👀 Amazon-owned Ring embraces neighborhood watch with home security networking app http://bit.ly/2I4l72X

📉 The British pound crashed overnight, and it was probably because of an algorithm http://bit.ly/2KXptH6

💼 How Netflix Redesigned Board Meetings http://bit.ly/2KNvVQU

🚀 Google’s ML Kit makes it easy to add AI smarts to iOS and Android apps https://tcrn.ch/2I6m5I7

The Bottom Line —

Just in case you don’t have time to read each article, here are the key takeaways and why each one matters for government:

📞 Google Assistant will soon be able to make calls to book your appointment https://engt.co/2I10Uen

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: At I/O 2018 , Google’s annual developer’s conference, a new artificial intelligence featured called Google Duplex was debuted to an announced of stunned developers. Google Duplex is designed to enable Google’s AI to interface with live humans to complete tasks such as scheduling an appointment (You can watch the demo of this demonstration here). The longterm plan here is to embed this functionality into Google Assistant, giving all users the ability to complete digital and physical tasks — almost like giving everyone a secretary to coordinate physical tasks on their behalf. For government agencies, this is an important advancement because not all modernization will happen first on the backend — meaning applications like Google Duplex could give users the ability to have a natural language chatbot complete government tasks, such as filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Although the technology is amazing, it is important to note that not everyone is a fan and there are ethical concerns that must be balanced. Some of the backlash was so strong, Google announced that Duplex would now identify itself as an AI upfront.

🚛 Why self-driving trucks will take over before self-driving cars http://bit.ly/2rtYafk

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: This was an interesting perspective on self-driving trucks having the potential to become more mainstream before self-driving cars for consumers. Profiling a Chinese company called TuSimple, with a U.S. presence as well, the author makes the case that closed private facilities, such as ports, are the perfect place for autonomous trucks to thrive because it’s a controlled environment with predictable and consistent workflows (unloading ships). As the author indicates, this could also be a great place to incubate autonomous technology before it becomes mainstream with consumers.

🗺 For a truly ‘smart’ city, you need a ‘geographic action system’ https://wapo.st/2jySGeY (H/T Herman Chandi)

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have been around for over 50 years, but this was a great piece that indicated the need to evolve traditional GIS approaches into something more actionable for cities. The author calls this a ‘Geographic Action Systems (GAS)’ and describes its function as follows:

GAS would continuously transmit real-time data about current city conditions — in video, symbolic or written form — directly to control devices or to human or robotic monitors. Monitors could immediately respond, initiating appropriate actions to alleviate or solve problems. GAS also could communicate directly with citizens, a task facilitated by citywide interconnectivity — public WiFi or satellite-based.

For government agencies, the author makes a strong point about the need to not just use data to reflect on previous trends and patterns, but to anticipate and proactively respond to new patterns. The only way to accomplish this will be for cities to look to normalize disparate sets of real-time data into unified place and further leverage artificial intelligence (along with a base set of standards and rules) to begin to make sense of the data.

🛣 The Transportation Problem No One Is Talking About http://bit.ly/2KHxOPd

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: This was a good look at a problem we don’t often hear about in the stories painting the progress of self-driving vehicles — rural navigation. Essentially, the author makes the point that rural areas pose a major challenge for self-driving vehicles due to the lack of available 3D maps. MIT researchers founded a new company called MapLite that uses GPS and basic sensors to navigate rural roads. For government agencies, this research could make it possible for autonomous ridesharing fleets to solve the first-mile and last-mile problem, especially in rural areas, in a more economical way.

🤖 There’s a growing problem of bots fighting each other online http://bit.ly/2I8tjPY

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: This article provided a fascinating look at how bots interact and sometimes clash with each other online — the main takeaway? Bots are increasingly fighting each other online. The research was based on Wikipedia edits and it found that bots would edit each other’s previous edits considerably more than humans — and that due to the lack of coordination between bots — this could lead to hundreds of additional edits over time. The main takeaway here is that as bots grow in volume and the complexity of the tasks they can complete, we will need to look at ways to coordinate and optimize how they interact with one another — especially since each both could be driven by proprietary algorithms.

💡 This company hopes its cryptocurrency can help the internet of things reach its true potential http://bit.ly/2G2i0Tv

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: The startup Helium is working on a way for the Internet of Things to leverage the decentralized benefits of the blockchain to reach its full potential. Although just a concept still at this point, the need to manage the data exhaust (and micro-transactions) from future IoT devices makes this model a very plausible way to address these emerging issues. For government agencies, it will be important to follow companies like Helium because as the de facto system of record — government will have to ultimately orchestrate and potentially regulate an exponentially increasing amount of connected sensors going forward.

👀 Amazon-owned Ring embraces neighborhood watch with home security networking app http://bit.ly/2I4l72X

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: Amazon’s purchase of Ring hasn’t stopped the startup’s innovations — this time, they’ve launched a new neighborhood watch feature called Neighbors. Neighbors enables users to “access local crime and safety information, view videos shared by Ring security camera owners, and share text-based messages as you would in a social network.” For government agencies, there’s also a place for public safety agencies to sign-up and share their own video and intelligence with the communities — providing another powerful mechanism for cities to better connect with their citizens.

📉 The British pound crashed overnight, and it was probably because of an algorithm http://bit.ly/2KXptH6

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: This was an older read, but a good reminder that our increased reliance on algorithmic decision-making — from stock trading to public safety applications— has the potential to respond in ways that we don’t always anticipate or want. In this case, a series of tweets made by French President about Brexit may have started a chain reaction of algorithmic selling that dropped the market 6 percent. For government agencies, there is not an easy answer to this challenge longterm, but it’s something to be aware of as more decisions are becoming automated over time.

💼 How Netflix Redesigned Board Meetings http://bit.ly/2KNvVQU

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: This was one of my favorite reads of the week that profiled how Netflix redesigned their board meetings to be more effective by engaging board members in regular company meetings.

Netflix takes a radically different approach. It incorporates two unique practices. First, board members periodically attend (in an observing capacity only) monthly and quarterly senior management meetings. What’s more, communication with the board comes in the form of a short, online memo that allows directors to ask questions and comment within the document. Executives can amend the text and answer questions in what is essentially a living document. (HBR)

For government agencies, the same model can be applied to state and local governing bodies — whether an IT governance committee or a city council — the transparent operating model leverage by Netflix has the potential to also improve the way government organizations work as well.

🚀 Google’s ML Kit makes it easy to add AI smarts to iOS and Android apps https://tcrn.ch/2I6m5I7

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: Another announcement from I/O 2018 was that Google was launching a new software development kit (SDK) for iOS and Android developers to embed machine learning capabilities into their mobile apps. The SDK is called ML Kit and provides online and offline machine learning templates for developers to add features like image classification directly into their apps. For government agencies, this is a reminder that the barriers of using advanced technologies continue to fall, which continues to lower the barrier to incorporating state-of-the-art use-cases in government applications without the high upfront development costs.

Read the full article on Medium.