The rise of the Tesla ridesharing network, the reputation age, and actors paid to attend city council meetings — 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:

🤯 Actors were paid to attend New Orleans city council meetings supporting power plant http://bit.ly/2wiDr3b

💰 Amazon finally opens up Alexa to developers to make money off third-party skills http://bit.ly/2HXZ8GS

👉 If Facial Recognition Comes to Body Cameras, How Will Government Respond? http://bit.ly/2Kp5LUt

🔎 Here’s How Facebook Uses AI To Detect Many Kinds Of Bad Content http://bit.ly/2KwNpkr

🚙 Uber to the ER? http://bit.ly/2KtcP2v

💡 Elon Musk offers more detail about Tesla’s ridesharing network https://tcrn.ch/2FDc7f3

📱 Sidewalk Labs’ New Tool Uses Smartphone Data to Model Changes in Transportation http://bit.ly/2FlHomQ

💻 Stuff 3.0: The Era of Programmable Matter http://bit.ly/2FsT5bh

💯 Say Goodbye To The Information Age: It’s All About Reputation Now http://bit.ly/2raiTog

🍕 How Pizza Night Can Cost More in Data Than Dollars https://on.wsj.com/2JAtznK

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:

🤯 Actors were paid to attend New Orleans city council meetings supporting power plant http://bit.ly/2wiDr3b

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: This was an interesting read that surfaced the use of paid-protestors, an increasing tactic now being used at the state and local level of government. Politics aside, we’ve entered a point of time where people can be organized using the Internet to protest (or create the perception of protest) for a simple monetary transaction. Companies, like Crowds On Demand, can enable corporate interest — or just a frustrated citizen — to amplify their voices with a paid audience of other protestors. You can also use the same crowd to speak in favor of an agenda item or candidate up for election. For government agencies, although there is not an easy way to distinguish between paid and authentic protestors — it’s important to know this is a new tactic now being used to alter and sometimes disrupt government decisions at the state and local level.

💰 Amazon finally opens up Alexa to developers to make money off third-party skills http://bit.ly/2HXZ8GS

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: Amazon announced that they are going to enable developers of the Amazon Alexa platform to begin monetizing their created skills through in-experience purchases. This change will lead to an increase in developers adding new skills to the over 30,000 skills currently available on the Alexa marketplace. For government agencies, the commerce benefits will be more useful when applied to enabling fees and payments to be completed within a skill. The most important aspect that will be required to accomplish this is a form of identity management and verification that extends to these new third-party platforms.

👉 If Facial Recognition Comes to Body Cameras, How Will Government Respond? http://bit.ly/2Kp5LUt

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: Last week we read about the potential rise of facial recognition in police body cameras — this week, I’m back with a great breakdown by GovTech of how far along the potential utilization of this technology is and how government agencies might respond:

In terms of where the facial recognition technology is, from one of the largest vendors:

In a statement sent to Government Technology, Axon said: At this point in time, we are not working on facial recognition technology to be deployed on body cameras. While we do see the value in this future capability, we also appreciate the concerns around privacy rights and the risks associated with misidentification of individuals. Accordingly, we chose to first form the AI Ethics Board to help ensure we balance both the risks and the benefits of deploying this technology. At Axon we are committed to ensuring that the technology we develop makes the world a better, and a safer place. (Government Technology)

In terms of a potential government response:

The Major Cities Chiefs Association’s technology committee has had some discussions about facial recognition and the benefits of the software are regularly acknowledged, said Rick Myers, the association’s executive director. Although he is not aware of any city governments venturing into establishing a law enforcement policy as it relates to using facial recognition technology, he believes it will likely be an internal policy a police department develops at the time when they decide whether to opt in or out of using this tool. (Government Technology)

For government agencies, the speed of change in public safety technology will continue to accelerate — and many new innovations will challenge existing policies and procedures. Ultimately, it is vital to have a regular conversation with multiple stakeholders (including civil service) about emerging technology on the horizon.

🔎 Here’s How Facebook Uses AI To Detect Many Kinds Of Bad Content http://bit.ly/2KwNpkr

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: This was an interesting look-under-the-hood of how Facebook is using AI to detect inappropriate content — essentially by using millions of user-reported content as a basis for training their artificial intelligence content-flagging systems. This system is so accurate now that many inappropriate content pieces are automatically flagged based on the included images and text, even if they didn’t exactly match a previous post — a side-benefit of deep learning systems. For government agencies, this approach is worth taking note of as a mechanism to deal with some of the challenges that come from content bot-attacks (i.e., misinformation campaigns) and citizen-engagement platform manipulation.

🚙 Uber to the ER? http://bit.ly/2KtcP2v

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: Cities are struggling to find ways to bridge health transit options — from critical ER trips to regular doctors visits — the ability to connect people with healthcare is becoming a pressing challenge for cities to solve. As the article indicates, there have been many pilots that have showed minor gains with leveraging ridesharing networks like Uber as an alternative, but the data isn’t conclusive at this point. For government agencies, there are a few lessons that can be extracted:

  1. Cities need the ability to analyze and orchestrate disparate travel options — not just city-owned mass transit.
  2. Additional pilots, like having Uber take people to jury duty, will be vital to understanding the best interface for these companies — and government agencies will need to be able to collect and analyze the data to understand the impact.
💡 Elon Musk offers more detail about Tesla’s ridesharing network https://tcrn.ch/2FDc7f3

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: In a Q1 earnings call, Elon Musk shed additional light on Tesla’s eventual ridesharing network. The Tesla Ridesharing Network has been previously discussed but little details were made public regarding how this might be deployed — and when. Although there is still no defined start date, there are a few items worth noting for government agencies:

  • Ridesharing Teslas could be used as an Uber or Lyft or hybrid of the two, instead of just operating a proprietary network of only Tesla ridesharing.
  • Although full autonomous Teslas are not on the road (they currently require a human driver behind the wheel with frequent intervention checks), the current Tesla fleet has the hardware capabilities to support it. Meaning, an over-the-air software update could enable Level 5 autonomy.
  • Tesla will need to create a software platform to orchestration ridesharing, interfacing across Lyft and Uber, that will provide an opportunity for government agencies to explore data partnerships to enable more seamless routing.
📱 Sidewalk Labs’ New Tool Uses Smartphone Data to Model Changes in Transportation http://bit.ly/2FlHomQ

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: Using aggregated anonymized cell phone data, Sidewalk Labs has created a new tool — called Replica — to help cities understand the movement of people and how it evolves over time. The benefit of this type of a tool is that it enables cities to understand the behavior and pulse of their cities as it changes, without exposing any personally identifiable information in the process (Note: There are still considerations that should be evaluated regarding data aggregate and how it’s used). An approach like this also enables cities to make decisions based on recent data instead of waiting for manual traffic counts or surveys to be fielded and replaces a trove a disparate datasets that would have to be manually compiled and normalized in the process.

💻 Stuff 3.0: The Era of Programmable Matter http://bit.ly/2FsT5bh

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: This was a fascinating read that makes the point that we’re fast approaching a new era where both hardware and software can be optimized to do anything we can imagine.

Life 3.0 marks a step-change from this: creatures that can change both their hardware and software in something like a feedback loop. This is what Tegmark views as a true artificial intelligence — one that can learn to change its own base code, leading to an explosion in intelligence. Perhaps, with CRISPR and other gene-editing techniques, we could be using our “software” to doctor our “hardware” before too long. (SingularityHUB)

For government agencies, although we’re not there yet — this era of change will require a different operational and governance model for how we deploy and manage technology. For example, if you’re SCADA systems can automatically fix vulnerabilities and optimize source-code, how does that change traditional security hygiene? What is the role of the CIO going forward?

💯 Say Goodbye To The Information Age: It’s All About Reputation Now http://bit.ly/2raiTog

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: In the post-Cambridge Analytica world,the ability to assess the reputation (i.e. trust) of information sources is seen as an important tactic to solving the fake news crisis. The mechanisms for brokering trust in a digital age are not completely new to today — as we’ve seen with eBay, Amazon and many other digital companies leveraging reputation as a basis for evaluating trustworthiness. This article profiled what the author calls a ‘paradigm shift’ in our relationship with knowledge. And I agree.

We are experiencing a fundamental paradigm shift in our relationship to knowledge. From the “information age,” we are moving towards the “reputation age,” in which information will have value only if it is already filtered, evaluated, and commented upon by others. Seen in this light, reputation has become a central pillar of collective intelligence today. It is the gatekeeper to knowledge, and the keys to the gate are held by others. The way in which the authority of knowledge is now constructed makes us reliant on what are the inevitably biased judgments of other people, most of whom we do not know. (Fast Company)

For government agencies, you each play a critical part of the reputation equation today — and it will become more important to identify mechanisms for validating and potentially assessing reputation beyond third-party reputation indexes. Identity and reputation are also important aspects that should also be considered as part of the wider smart cities conversations.

🍕 How Pizza Night Can Cost More in Data Than Dollars https://on.wsj.com/2JAtznK (WSJ Paywall $)

🏛 Why it Matters for Government: This was a great read that showed a hypothetical example of how a pizza night can give up more value in data then the dollars you pay for the experience. Essentially, from the moment the pizza is ordered and the social interactions (like taking a selfie) there are over 53 pieces of information that can be used to better target the buyers. For government agencies, it will become more important to take a proactive roll in the data privacy conversation and also put in place policies to safeguard constituent data that may be collected (and scraped) by third-parties looking to misuse the data.

Read the full article on Medium