In this episode of the 538 Politics podcast, Galen speaks with Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, interim dean of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. He recently co-authored the white paper "Preparing for Generative AI in the 2024 Election: Recommendations and Best Practices Based on Academic Research." Listen
Ethan Bueno de Mesquita is a leading political scientist whose research applies game theoretic models to the study of conflict, political violence, national security, and electoral politics, he has also written extensively on methodological issues in the social sciences. Under Professor Bueno de Mesquita’s leadership, the Harris School is on the path to become a leading destination for research, teaching, and subject matter expertise in tech policy with a specific emphasis on thorny issues surrounding governance of generative AI.
Professor Dube studies poverty, violence and crime in countries around the world. Recently, in partnership with The University of Chicago Urban Labs Crime Lab, she ran a large-scale experiment with 2000 Chicago police officers, randomizing access to a training program that used simulation consoles to help officers learn to deal better with the cognitive demands associated with complex decision making and information overload. They found that trained officers performed differently in the field: They used force less often, made fewer discretionary arrests, and were less likely to arrest black civilians, while their overall activity levels remained unchanged. Dube is working to scale this research up and to move the training away from simulation consoles into augmented reality or virtual reality.
Ariel Kalil's current research examines the historical evolution of income-based gaps in parenting behavior and children’s cognitive and non-cognitive skills. In addition, at the Behavioral Insights and Parenting Lab, she is leading research on EdTech, with a particular interest in the ways that technology can help parents with low income be more effective in supporting young children's development of math and reading skills.
Joshua Gottlieb is an expert on the economics of the healthcare system, including administrative costs, the geography of healthcare, healthcare labor markets, the organization of insurance markets, and physician behavior. His research spans health, labor, urban, and public economics.
Wright's research on substate conflict largely focuses on the political economy of insurgent violence, examining how rebel groups adopt new technologies of war to undermine state rivals. He is currently fielding several studies using tech-associated applications to improve development interventions. He is working with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Bank on how to use technology to monitor population movement during conflict. The hope is to evaluate whether and how to scale aid distribution using signals from this platform. He has also worked on a project in Ukraine that used GPS trace data to monitor public responses to government warning systems via an application developed with a Ukrainian tech company.
Gregory Lane is an Assistant Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. He is a development economist with a current research focus on innovations in finance, technology, and labor markets in developing countries. He, and fellow Harris Public Policy faculty member, Erin Kelley, have fielded a years-long randomized controlled trial on the ways in which tech interventions (in the form of a mobile app) can substantially improve traffic safety in the developing world, in their case by focusing on the behavior of urban minibus drivers in Kenya.
Working together to advance data-supported technology policy
In late August 2023, Harris, in partnership with the Stanford Graduate School of Business, hosted a convening. The goals of the gathering were to generate thoughtful, non-partisan, expert advice to inform ongoing debates concerning the governance of AI and to build connections between academia and industry that foster greater investment in understanding critical issues at the nexus of technology and society.
Representatives joining from technology, industry, and public policy represented a wide range of substantive expertise. Participants discussed topics including the challenges of generative artificial intelligence for the 2024 U.S. Election and opportunities for establishing best practices and governance guidelines.
"Preparing for Generative AI in the 2024 Election: Recommendations and Best Practices Based on Academic Research" is a white paper that resulted from this partnership. It proposes non-partisan, expert recommendations on various critical AI governance issues.
The University of Chicago has received a grant from the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN), a partnership of universities dedicated to combining public policy and digital innovation for societal benefit, to create the Community Data Fellows program, a new initiative that works toward the interests of marginalized Chicagoans. To that end, the Fellows program will pair local, community-based nonprofit organizations with UChicago graduate students (Fellows) who possess skills in technology and policy analysis.
Students in the University’s Master of Science in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MSCAPP) program, jointly led by the Harris School of Public Policy and the Department of Computer Science, are expected to have strong interest in the Fellows program given their commitment to bringing technology and data science to bear on public policy issues.
Data and technology approaches unlock a multitude of powerful, novel solutions to improve government functionality, enhancing the ability of public institutions to better serve their citizens. A new University of Chicago program, the Congressional Modernization Fellowship, provides a unique opportunity for UChicago Master’s students to work directly with the United States Congress on technology solutions that improve government efficiency and effectiveness.
The fellowship, made possible by a gift from Harris School of Public Policy alumnus Galen Hines-Pierce, MPP'17, will fund nine students over three years to work on projects in Chicago and Washington D.C. with the legislative branch of the federal government. First-year students in the Master of Science in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MS-CAPP) program are eligible to apply to the program, which is a partnership between POPVOX Foundation, the Data Science Institute (DSI) and the Harris School of Public Policy.
In 2024, approximately two billion people will participate in elections worldwide. With the increasing use of generative AI for election-related content, concerns over misinformation, deepfakes, and forgeries are growing. How can voters, candidates, and technology platforms take advantage of this new technology while maintaining trust and transparency in the democratic process? Learn more