Artificial Intelligence in Government

I recently read a phenomenal report put together by Hila Mehr from the Harvard Ash Center for Technology and Democracy. In it, she talks about practical use cases for AI in government and clear implementation strategies. She talks about the fact that when citizens interact with government today they are constantly interacting with 20th century technology in a 21st century world, which coupled with low government satisfaction ratings spells potential disaster if governments are unable or unwilling to effectively modernize. Furthermore, the modernizations efforts should attempt to responsibility, and where beneficial, integrate AI.

She goes on to talk about the types of government problems appropriate for AI applications:

Practically, I’ve seen AI being used in the following contexts when it comes to government:

  • Monitoring and Analyzing large troves of digital data and then summarizing that data — helpful in national security instances. Agolo is an example of a company here.
  • Bringing together disparate data bases to bring holistic pictures of public health — Loom and Livestories are examples here.
  • Automating the redaction of personal identifiable information in video — Axon made an acquisition in this space.
  • Automating workflows around public record requests and smartly triaging requests — NextRequest is an example of a company doing this.
  • Municipal transit route planning and optimizations — Optibus is an example here.

And while this isn’t an exhaustive list, it provides tangible examples of the sorts of use-cases where AI is appropriate, because each use-case is a solution to an AI appropriate government problem.

“AI certainly has a role to play in service delivery and helping people triage work” — David Eaves, lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School

One of the best parts of Hila’s paper is how she talks about the way governments should approach the use of AI. It’s summarized by the following chart:

All-in-all I found the report spot-on! For anyone interesting in the intersection of government and technology, this is a must read — full report is linked here.

By Hila Mehr

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