Welcome to Apolitical’s briefing for the week of 30 July. Sign up here for a weekly email on how the world’s most pressing problems are being tackled.
Can government use artificial intelligence without endangering citizens? Despite known risks, France has pledged $1.85billion for AI research, and Canada is cultivating specialists in universities. We explain the key debates on regulating robots.
A coalition of governments is fighting authoritarianism with transparency. In an exclusive interview, the CEO of the Open Government Partnership said democracy is in a bad place. Now, reformers in 70 countries are helping citizens to understand and shape government.
Women commit less violent crime but suffer more from prison than men. Women in prison are more likely to self harm and suffer from PTSD, and dependent children are left vulnerable. England’s 12 women’s prisons are trialling a new approach centred on trauma care.
As Austria cracks down on asylum seekers, Vienna integrates them anyway. The city’s agencies have joined up to find creative ways around restrictive federal rules. But it’s hard to encourage newcomers to integrate when they live in fear of deportation.
Top Writing by our Members
In these 100 places, governments are using tech to crowdsource policy. From Paris to Malaysia, a new initiative maps where citizens are taking part in lawmaking. It aims to show how public engagement improves government effectiveness.
(Victòria Alsina Burgués)
Digital government could change your life — if you can access the internet. Estonians register companies online, and Muscovites speak with city administrators via mobile apps. But half the world is unconnected, making it hard for reformers to push for faster digitisation.
(Oren Pinsky & Rafael Steinhauser)
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Safety and Justice
New Zealand will be the first country to offer domestic violence victims paid leave. Victims will get 10 days to help them leave their partners, find new homes and protect their children. New Zealand has one of the highest family violence rates in the developed world.
The EU will offer member states €6,000 ($7,021) for every migrant they take in. The offer came after Italy closed its ports to migrant rescue boats from the Mediterranean. But Italy’s interior minister denounced it as too small.
Dubai’s new smart police stations will be cop-free. The centres will open 24/7 and will use tech to offer traffic, crime and community services. The number of visitors to regular police stations is anticipated to decrease by 80%.
Singapore is using virtual reality for counterterrorism. Officers prepare for crises by taking part in simulated terrorist attacks, knife-wielding offensives and other dangerous scenarios. The aim is to improve team-based decision-making.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“New technology offers the opportunity for public institutions to learn from our collective wisdom” — Victòria Alsina Burgués, New York University — Harvard Kennedy School
Education and Changing Jobs
Seattle passed a bill of rights for domestic workers. Under the new law, nannies, house cleaners and gardeners will be guaranteed minimum wages and rest breaks. This class of workers is regularly excluded from key labour regulations.
Delhi’s government has introduced happiness classes in schools. A rigid academic system focused on standardised testing is said to cause stress and even suicides. Some 100,000 students now start the day with inspirational stories and meditation.
South Korea is making companies send employees home early. Koreans work 240 more hours a year than Americans, which police have linked to 500 annual suicides. Phone calls to the labour ministry are now met with the message: “Our society is breaking away from overwork.”
(New York Times)
Health and Ageing
The UK will legalise medical cannabis. Thousands of people with drug-resistant conditions could now get access to cannabis-derived medicinal products for treatment. The UK is the world’s largest exporter and producer of cannabis-based medicines.
The World Bank and the UN love emojis. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also successfully lobbied for a mosquito emoji to raise malaria awareness, and Plan International wants a menstruation emoji (a blood drop) to help break taboos around periods.
(Picture credit: Pexels)