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 datausa.iodatachile.iodataafrica.io, 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.