Swae CEO speaks at Nesta London | Tata Spark Salon

Swae CEO speaks at Nesta London | Tata Spark Salon

What positive change can digital technologies have on the democratic process?

Swae’s CE Soushiant spoke at at Nesta London at the Tata Spark Salon on the opportunities and challenges for spreading digital democracy, and how Swae can bridge that gap.

Swae & The Future Society on the Governance of AI

Swae & The Future Society on the Governance of AI

We’re very excited to announce our first pilot with the AI Initiative, an initiative of The Future Society, in which Swae will conduct Sentiment Analysis on the content of the AI-Initiative’s crowdsourced global civic debate on the rise and governance of Artificial Intelligence.

Background on the Global Debate on AI Regulation

In September 2017, the Future Society and the AI-initiative, in partnership with the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence, launched a global civic debate that invited members of the public to crowdsource thoughts and opinions about how artificial intelligence technologies across business, government, society should be governed to achieve a beneficial future for all. Led over a seven-month period, The Future Society’s collective intelligence effort assembled over 2000 diverse and multi-lingual participants (citizens, practitioners, experts, and researchers working on AI, robotics, cyber, public policy, international relations and economics) through offline and online event held globally, who collectively shared over 3,300 contributions in five languages. The collection of opinions provides novel perspectives on the governance of AI and insights on how the AI revolution is playing out in different geographies, its consequences and how they need to be governed to capture the upsides, minimize the downsides and ensure that its benefits reach everyone. The availability of the platform in different languages was a conscious effort by The Future Society to design a truly inclusive conversation, attract the largest number of global voices, and shape a *global policy framework that aligned to our local cultural values.

The Debate’s Relevance to Swae

Although Swae’s primary platform is a distributed decision-making tool supported by AI, we are offering important sentiment analysis capabilities for administrators inside organizations and cities. We’re therefore leveraging this pilot opportunity to help build out our capabilities to improve our general offering and support our mission of making collective decision making an intelligent and efficient alternative to the status quo. In this pilot, we will conduct data analysis and experiment with data science techniques and existing NLP/NLG APIs to see what kinds of insights we can derive from the collection of rich opinions and discussion threads. We hope the insights we can reveal help us visualize the commonalities in perspective from geographically dispersed regions, highlight unique differences and previously unrevealed solutions or suggestions on how to govern the exponential growth of AI to ensure it’s a net positive and prosperity-enabling force for all humanity. In a later post, we will share some high level findings about the global sentiment expressed about the future growth and regulation of AI in our analysis.

Presentation of Findings at the European Parliament

The results of the debate, along with any meaningful insights we may uncover from our analysis during the pilot, will all be shared at the official launch of a report at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium on September 26th. For those interested in attending, the event offers some interesting interactive workshops with leaders in the Machine Learning field, immersive experiences with an artistic design installation, and the opportunity to take a “seat at the table” to shape global AI policy.

About Swae

Swae is an AI-driven decision-making and governance platform that helps raise the quality and inclusivity of decisions within organizations, allowing people to participate directly in key strategy, budget, operational decisions and create solutions from the bottom up that can be institutionalized. By combining anonymity, artificial, and collective intelligence Swae helps organizations unleash the creativity of their stakeholders, discover new unrevealed ideas, and collectively build bottom-up solutions to strategy and resource allocation decisions, and improving overall decision quality without significant work for management.

About the The Future Society & AI-Initiative

The AI Initiative is an initiative of Harvard University’s The Future Society, a global non-profit think-and-do-tank dedicated to better understanding questions of impact and governance of emerging technologies. Created in 2015, The Future Society gathers students, researchers, alumni, faculty, business leaders, policy makers and experts from around the world ,through it’s expertise in Research, Convenings and Executive Education, to help shape the global policy framework for emerging technologies, including Artificial Intelligence.
Swae, A New Model for Global Governance & The New Shape Prize

Swae, A New Model for Global Governance & The New Shape Prize

This coming Saturday and Sunday (May 26th and 27th), Federico Ast, Martin Monin and I will be in Stockholm, Sweden, pitching to a jury of experts about our model for 21st century (and beyond) global governance. We were selected as 1 of 14 finalists for the New Shape Prize, a $5M USD award looking to support new models of global governance (read more about the foundation, the founder’s story and logic behind the prize, and global risks). Given what I’ve been working on for the past year or so, I’d heard about this prize, but didn’t imagine we’d get very far. I hesitated to apply, thinking “Governance is so broken and topical today (think Brexit and Trump’s election). I’m sure some Ph.Ds from Stanford or PPE students from Oxford have a brilliant and technologically elegant model to fix it all.” Instead of giving into defeat, however, I decided to apply and treated the application process — a 30+page detailed technical proposal — as an opportunity to elaborate deeply on our ideas, assumptions, implementation plan, and vision. Here we are…

Our Model — High Level

We’re proposing a new model for global governance using a combination of new tools, new actors, and new institutions that helps us circumvent the limitations of our current system and instead facilitates bottom-up AI-supported deliberation and policy creation (read the abstract here).

To help us move past existing solutions created primarily through narrowly defined national interests, the model does three things:

1) Allow much more broad participation and competition in the design of solutions. Better ideas = a normative challenge against the current limited ideas we select from.

2) Provide access to powerful tools that are currently not democratized, so solutions can be properly deliberated, diligenced, simulated in digital environments, and de-risked before the thought of implementation. Well vetted, technically sound ideas with political backing = more tolerance for trying them out.

3) Provide real jurisdictions where ideas can be implemented to see their impacts (e.g. smart cities, communities, special economic zones, micro-nations). Real jurisdictions that would implement good solutions = a testing ground for intended and unintended impacts and a real incentive to participate to propose solutions, instead of simply moaning about the status quo.

In the short term, the model would sit alongside our existing governance system, challenging the solutions it creates, while testing itself out in different environments.

In the long term, this model will replace how we do governance at the local, national and international levels. As the model gains integrity and adoption, is used in different governance settings, more people will demand it be used where it matters most.

Criticism — How Might We Be Wrong?

Of course we could be wrong. We probably are on a number of fronts. Our model has certain assumptions and depends on some trends coming to fruition — about evolving human behaviour and cultural expectations, future of work, technology availability, adoption and trust. Before trying to defend ourselves, let me share some key criticisms we’ve heard and can anticipate:

  • “Democracy apps and civic technology platforms have tried to democratize democracy for the past 5–10 years and largely failed. Why will this be any different?”
  • “This is essentially crowdsourcing. Beyond Wikipedia, crowdsourcing hasn’t produced major breakthroughs. How will this be different?”
  • Even if this could work at the local, city or national level, how does it scale globally? How do it ensure there is impact at the global level where problems are most acute? Can’t leaders just ignore it?
  • “What happens if the policies the system produces don’t work as planned? How do we ensure things don’t get worse?”

We have answers to these criticisms and soon after the competition ends, we’ll open source our entire application (or share as much of it as we feel comfortable sharing) in order to invite as much constructive criticism and thoughtful debate about the model as possible. If there are some major holes or potential unintended consequences our model may create, we want to be aware of them and design solutions to mitigate them. If there are any burning criticisms I missed, feel free to share them below or DM me.

Our Next Steps (Win or Lose)

Win or lose, this opportunity allows us to work closely with some really excellent potential partners and collaborators (see other finalists) who each have a powerful tool or model to contribute to the problem. Of course, the process and recognition is a great source of validation — that we’re working on something that matters and could have global consequences — and the funding would be an enormous boost, helping us move beyond the bootstrapping stage we’re in. But the biggest benefit could be the relationships we build, the assumptions we adjust, new models we create out of these initial frameworks to create be even better, more fit-for-purpose system, that more practically addresses our governance shortcomings.

Whatever the outcome, we’re super excited and honoured to participate in the forum. We’ll be tweeting from Saturday onwards, from our Swae twitter account and from my own account.

Wish us luck (and best of luck to the other finalists)!