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AI and Its Impact on Public Administration

In early 2018, the Board of the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy) challenged its Standing Panels to develop public facing activities that advance the mission of the Academy. Accepting this challenge, the Standing Panel on Technology Leadership formed the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Working Group, based on the strong belief that AI and Robotics are generating a huge amount of interest and have the potential to impact the field of public administration for many years to come. Further, the group believes that the Academy has a great opportunity to actively explore this subject area and seek meaningful outcomes.

By the Spring of 2018, three working groups emerged that focused on:

  • AI and The Future of Work
  • AI and Ethics
  • AI and the Public Administration Curriculum

It is the hope of all those involved in the visioning, thinking, research, and commenting on draft reports that the final white papers are accepted as topics for action, that each addresses practical concerns, and that each calls for on-going research and issue monitoring.

The Working Groups believe their work has just begun, and we can expect more Academy contributions and outcomes on this overall topic in the years ahead.

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Quotes from the AI Book

"Today's working world is changing faster than ever before. Disruption is the new norm...As the speed of innovation accelerates, Artificial Intelligence will continue to be a factor driving change in how people work." - Karen Shrum, Principal in the Government and Public-Sector practice of Ernst & Young LLP, and Lisa Gordon, President and Chief Executive Officer of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity

"The fundamental aspect of AI that raises ethical issues is the fact that there is not a clear explanation for how and why an AI application reached its conclusion – be that conclusion a decision about who should receive what benefits or punishments, or what geographic areas will be most vulnerable to storms or forest fires in 25 years, or how effective a particular drug is likely to be for a group of patients with certain characteristics in common. The opacity of AI systems in any area of PA challenges the traditional responsibilities of administrators regardless of substantive policy area or whether decisions directly involve citizens." - Priscilla Regan, Professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, and Karl Maschino, Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Financial Officer for the U.S. Government Accountability Office

"While much on-going discussion has focused on how information technology can be integrated and introduced within the PA curriculum or offered as a separate intro course, artificial intelligence itself has accelerated the need to turn thought into action." - Alan R. Shark, Executive Director and CEO of Public Technology Institute (PTI) now a subsidiary of CompTIA and Anders Shropshire, senior at the University of Wisconsin studying Political Science and Sociology, and a first year Masters of International Public Affairs student at the La Follette School of Public Affairs

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