Ideas Lunch

Open science policies in Europe: Adapting science to the 21st century

On Wednesday, November 20, The GovLab presents its next ideas lunch featuring Jean-Claude Burgelman.

RSVP link here:

About this Event

Drawing on his experiences as the Open Access Envoy of the European Commission Directorate General for Research and Innovation, Jean-Claude Burgelman will discuss the potential of open science during this Ideas Lunch. Burgelman, who developed the open science principles of the European Commission, defines open science as a “systemic transition of the science system which affects the way:

  • research is performed;
  • knowledge is shared, diffused and preserved;
  • research is funded;
  • researchers are rewarded; and
  • future researchers are trained.”

Burgelman will explain how open science is needed in the 21st century to improve the return on investment in research and innovation, better circulate new ideas, deliver transparency, and make the field more fit-for-purpose. He will also review the EU policies that are in place to advance these goals and detail what remains to be done. Burgelman’s talk will close with a call for a commons approach to science, as well as a Q&A discussion with the audience.

Free pizza lunch will also be provided!


Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat

You’re invited to hear noted researcher Marion Nestle discuss the intersection of marketing and science in the food industry as she discusses her new book, “Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat.”

With Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor and Professor Emerita, NFS, NYU Steinhardt.

Hosted by, Beth Simone Noveck, Chief Innovation Officer, The State of New Jersey, Director, The Governance Lab, Professor, NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

Monday, December 3rd, 6:00pm

Pfizer Auditorium

5 MetroTech Center, 1st Floor


Books will be available to purchase at the talk (debit/credit cards and exact cash excepted)


The Future of Governments, from Data to A.I.

The Future of Democracy Working Group at the Institute for Public Knowledge and the GovLab at NYU invite you to a conversation between César A. Hidalgo and José L. Martí.

In recent years, we have seen many efforts to distribute government data. These efforts, however, often fall short in terms of their ability to integrate data, or visualize it. As a result, we have data rich governments that lack the tools needed to use that data in decision support systems. During the last decade, César Hidalgo has been engineering resources to integrate, distribute, and visualize data, which have resulted in a new pipeline for the accessibility of government data for both the general public and government workers. In this presentation, Hidalgo will tell the story of resources such as, and more, which are revolutionizing the world of open data and how these changes are bringing us closer to a world where data can support government decision making and opens the door to the use of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) in governments.

While experts on A.I. promise wonderful developments and applications that will soon enhance our current mechanisms of human collective intelligence in democratic politics, it’s crucial to remember that we are still in the developmental phase of the technology. José Martí will discuss collective intelligence, its importance to democracy and legitimacy, as well as the reasons why we should not be designing and developing A.I. as a replacement for human democratic decision-making, but rather as a complement.

César A. Hidalgo leads the Collective Learning group at The MIT Media Lab and is an Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT. Hidalgo’s work focuses on understanding how teams, organizations, cities, and nations learn. At the Collective Learning group, Hidalgo studies knowledge flows and also creates software tools to facilitate learning in organizations. Hidalgo’s latest book, Why Information Grows (Basic Books, 2015),  has been translated to over ten languages. Hidalgo is also the co-author of The Atlas of Economic Complexity (MIT Press, 2014), and a co-founder of Datawheel LLC, a company that has professionalized the creation of large data visualization engines.

José L. Martí is Vice-rector of innovation and associate professor of law and political philosophy at Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona. He does research on republicanism, global governance, and democratic theory (particularly on deliberative democracy, participatory democracy, and collective intelligence). He has been Laurance Rockefeller Visiting Fellow at the University Center for Human Values (Princeton University, 2008-2009) and Visiting Professor at University of Richmond (2014). He is now collaborating with the GovLab’s CrowdLaw project.


Collective Intelligence and Democracy

The Future of Democracy Working Group at the Institute for Public Knowledge and the GovLab at NYU invite you to join a conversation and lunch with Geoff Mulgan.

The best political systems harness and amplify the brainpower of their citizens. The worst do the opposite. Around the world, many experiments are underway to tap collective intelligence – from neighborhoods to big strategic issues, budgets to laws.  What is being learned from these experiments? What do they suggest about the future design of democracy? How should the formal processes of democracy relate to the informal ones, like media and social media commentary? And how could these ideas be implemented whether at the level of cities, nations, continents (like the European Union) or even the United Nations?

Geoff Mulgan CBE is Chief Executive of Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation which uses investment, practical innovation and research to promote innovation for the common good in the UK and dozens of countries around the world. Between 1997 and 2004 Geoff had roles in the UK government including director of the Government’s Strategy Unit and head of policy in the Prime Minister’s office. From 2004 to 2011 Geoff was the first Chief Executive of The Young Foundation. He was the first director of the think-tank Demos and reporter on BBC TV and radio. He has been a visiting professor at LSE, UCL and Melbourne University and is currently a senior visiting scholar at Harvard University. His most recent book is Big Mind: How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World (Princeton University Press). Geoff’s Twitter handle is @geoffmulgan. A summary of ideas Geoff has worked on can be found here.


Government By The People, With the People: How is Transforming, Four Years After the Sunflower Occupy Movement

The Future of Democracy Working Group at the Institute for Public Knowledge and the GovLab at NYU invite you to a conversation between Audrey Tang and Beth Simone Noveck.

The discussion will explore how civic technology is enabling new and improved forms of citizen participation, deliberation, and collaboration between government and the public, helping public institutions to benefit from the wisdom of the crowd and empowering citizen-led community at a national scale. In this conversation, the founder of the White House Open Government initiative will talk with Taiwan’s Digital Minister about her revolutionary efforts to transform how Taiwan makes law and policy and to create a more open and participatory democracy. Driven by a people-centered vision for governing, Audrey Tang unusually describes her job in a poem.

When we see “internet of things”, let’s make it an internet of beings.
When we see “virtual reality”, let’s make it a shared reality.
When we see “machine learning”, let’s make it collaborative learning.
When we see “user experience”, let’s make it about human experience.
When we hear “the singularity is near”, let us remember: the Plurality is here.

We’ll do the analysis and interrogate this radical new vision for government of, for, by and, above all, with the people.

Audrey Tang is Taiwan’s Digital Minister in charge of Social Innovation. Audrey is known for revitalizing the computer languages Perl and Haskell, as well as building the online spreadsheet system EtherCalc in collaboration with Dan Bricklin. In the public sector, Audrey served on Taiwan national development council’s open data committee and K-12 curriculum committee; and led the country’s first e-Rulemaking project. In the private sector, Audrey worked as a consultant with Apple on computational linguistics, with Oxford University Press on crowd lexicography, and with Socialtext on social interaction design. In the social sector, Audrey actively contributes to g0v (“gov zero”), a vibrant community focusing on creating tools for the civil society, with the call to “fork the government.”

Beth Simone Noveck directs the Governance Lab (GovLab) and its MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance. She is a Professor in Technology, Culture, and Society at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering and a Fellow at NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge. New Jersey governor Phil Murphy appointed her as the state’s first Chief Innovation Officer in 2018. Previously, Beth served in the White House as the first United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer and director of the White House Open Government Initiative under President Obama. UK Prime Minister David Cameron appointed her senior advisor for Open Government.


Balancing Act: Innovation vs. Privacy in the Age of Data Portability

Thursday, July 12, 2018 @ 2 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, NY 11201

RSVP here.

The ability of people to move or copy data about themselves from one service to another — data portability — has been hailed as a way of increasing competition and driving innovation. In many areas, such as through the Open Banking initiative in the United Kingdom, the practice of data portability is fully underway and propagating. The launch of GDPR in Europe has also elevated the issue among companies and individuals alike. But recent online security breaches and other experiences of personal data being transferred surreptitiously from private companies, (e.g., Cambridge Analytica’s appropriation of Facebook data), highlight how data portability can also undermine people’s privacy.

The GovLab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering is pleased to present Jeni Tennison, CEO of the Open Data Institute, for its next Ideas Lunch, where she will discuss how data portability has been regulated in the UK and Europe, and what governments, businesses and people need to do to strike the balance between its risks and benefits.

Jeni Tennison is the CEO of the Open Data Institute. She gained her PhD from the University of Nottingham then worked as an independent consultant, specialising in open data publishing and consumption, before joining the ODI in 2012. Jeni was awarded an OBE for services to technology and open data in the 2014 New Year Honours.

Before joining the ODI, Jeni was the technical architect and lead developer for She worked on the early linked data work on, including helping to engineer new standards for publishing statistics as linked data. She continues her work within the UK’s public sector as a member of the Open Standards Board.

Jeni also works on international web standards. She was appointed to serve on the W3C’s Technical Architecture Group from 2011 to 2015 and in 2014 she started to co-chair the W3C’s CSV on the Web Working Group. She also sits on the Advisory Boards for Open Contracting Partnership and the Data Transparency Lab.

Twitter handle: @JeniT


Reinventing – not Disrupting – the Role of Government Through Blockchain Technology

Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 2 Metrotech Center, 9th Floor, Room 9009, Brooklyn 11201

RSVP here

The use of permissioned blockchains in the public sector has the potential to create a new balance point between two extremes: pure algorithmic governance (e.g., Bitcoin) and pure human governance (e.g., your local city council). This talk will explore if and how blockchain can help bring automation, transparency, and audit-ability to the world’s governing systems and institutions. Does the strategic introduction of blockchain-enabled validation mechanisms and smart contracts offer a means for rescuing public confidence in governing institutions while cutting costs and better ensuring fair outcomes per policy? Behlendorf will discuss these and other questions related to blockchain’s coming impact on how we govern.


Brian Behlendorf is the Executive Director of Hyperledger Project. Behlendorf was a primary developer of the Apache Web server, the most popular web server software on the Internet, and a founding member of the Apache Software Foundation. He has also served on the board of the Mozilla Foundation since 2003 and the Electronic Frontier Foundation since 2013. He was the founding CTO of CollabNet and CTO of the World Economic Forum. Most recently, Behlendorf was a managing director at Mithril Capital Management LLC, a global technology investment firm.

Twitter handle: @brianbehlendorf


Is Data the Oil of the 21st Century?

Thursday, March 2, 2017 @ The GovLab, 2 Metrotech Center, 9th Floor, Brooklyn 11201

RSVP here


Is Data the Oil of the 21st Century?

Learning from History: From a Century of Oil to a Century of Data

Oil dominated our economies throughout the 20th century, strategies for access to oil influenced foreign policies and oil changed not only our mobility but also our everyday lives. It’s said that data will have a similar influence on the 21st century, impacting and even changing everything around us. Even if the phrase “Data is the oil of the 21st century” is mostly used for marketing, this analogy has a deeper meaning.

Malte Spitz will discuss his upcoming book, “Is Data the Oil of the 21st Century?”, which looks at the impact of oil on our societies, economies and geopolitics in the 20th century and draws comparisons to the impact of data in the 21st century. Even if history doesn’t repeat itself, we can learn from the oil-age and apply it to this new century of data. Spitz presents no glorification or pessimism, but new ideas for a century where data will challenge everything.

Malte Spitz is an author, activist and politician from Germany. He served seven years on the Executive Committee of the German Green Party and has been a member of their board since 2013. Currently he is Secretary General of the new NGO “Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte” (Society for Civil Rights) working on strategic litigation in the field of human rights. His book “What are you doing with my data?” was published in 2014. As a Fellow at the Bucerius Lab of Zeit Foundation Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius, he is working on his second book about “Is Data the oil of the 21st century?” looking back on the impact of oil on our societies, economies and geopolitics in the 20th century and drawing comparisons to the impact of data in the 21st century and what we can learn in this regard from the oil-age. He lives with his wife and two children in Berlin.



Please RSVP. Lunch will be served.


Connecting Government with Outside Expertise via Natural Language Processing

Thursday, February 16, 2017, 12:30-2pm @ The GovLab, 2 Metrotech Center, 9th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201

RSVP here

Getting outside expertise is essential to improving the quality of decisionmaking in government. While universities are a storehouse of knowledge and experience, public officials often turn to lobbyists, think tanks and interest groups, instead, because of the difficulty of quickly ascertaining who has expertise on a given topic and the nature of that expertise. The problem is exacerbated by the absence of (i) well-formatted records of knowledge, when (ii) it is difficult ex ante to specify relevant types of expertise in a survey, and (iii) individuals with overlapping interests may use related, but not identical, language to describe similar issues. This talk explores new computational strategies—in particular, a growing class of “word embedding” models—for creating measures of individual-level expertise that might offer insight into how, in the future, we can match public problems to the supply of experts and help public institutions obtain diverse knowledge more quickly. The talk concludes with a discussion of how model estimates may be used on data outside of the training set (e.g., as merged with resumes, or ‘LinkedIn’ type data), when the quality of observed data varies across individuals, or in tandem with existing user meta data derived from a social network platform.



Michael Gill is a Moore-Sloan Data Science Fellow at the Center for Data Science at NYU, and a Research Fellow at the GovLab. Michael’s substantive interests include the study of special interest groups, the causes and effects of government transparency, and U.S. foreign policy. Methodologically, his research focuses on applications of machine learning methods for causal inference problems in the social sciences, experimental methods, and the analysis of text-as-data. He received his Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University, where he was an affiliate of the Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences.


Hacking Parliament

Thursday, October 27, 2016, 12:30-2pm @ The GovLab, 2 Metrotech Center, 9th Floor.  Please RSVP here.

In this talk Cristiano Ferri, Director of the Brazilian Parliament’s Hacker Lab and author of The Open Parliament in the Age of the Internet, will highlight several open innovation (aka “crowdlaw”) experiments that the HackerLab is undertaking at the Brazilian House of Representatives and lay out their political, social and organizational impacts and challenges. HackerLab is the only public lab built in and totally funded by a legislature. The talk will conclude by outlining the future of crowdlaw and the research agenda needed to assess its effectiveness and legitimacy.

Cristiano Ferri is currently Director of the Hacker Laboratory in the Brazilian House of Representatives.  He has developed and managed the legislative e-Democracy Program at the House. As House’s senior official since 1993, his main fields of interest and expertise are lawmaking, public labs, open parliament, participation, parliamentary informatics, transparency, open innovation in public sector and quality of law (legistic). Faria is also a research associate from Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School. He holds a PhD in sociology and political science at the Institute for Social and Political Studies, State University from Rio de Janeiro and a Master of Science in public policy from Queen Mary’s College, University of London.