Tag Archives: transparency

The NZ Government promised to be open and transparent, but it is an artfully-crafted mirage

Opinion piece from stuff, I’m curious given the govt clearly controls the media. So someone is speaking out finally? Wait and see what transpires. It speaks to the tightening control on what journos write & am reminded of the US woman recently blowing the whistle on Fox News to Project Veritas …

Stuff excerpts:

“In my 20-year plus time as a journalist, this Government is one of the most thin-skinned and secretive I have experienced. Many of my colleagues say the same.

Even squeezing basic facts out of an agency is a frustrating, torturous and often futile exercise.

It’s now very difficult for journalists to get to the heart and the truth of a story. We are up against an army of well-paid spin doctors.

Here is the full article:

OPINION: From the moment she took office in 2017, Jacinda Ardern promised her government would be the most open and transparent New Zealand has seen.

In her first formal speech to Parliament she pledged: “This government will foster a more open and democratic society. It will strengthen transparency around official information.”

Since then the number of faceless communications specialists has skyrocketed. The Government’s iron grip on the control of information has tightened.

And it is now harder than ever to get information.

READ MORE

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/125352433/this-government-promised-to-be-open-and-transparent-but-it-is-an-artfullycrafted-mirage?fbclid=IwAR2CMWIw1js3n2i4QryttkUy4riBd0OQhMpTyqhndByI-42LRQMBMpSXtHY

NZ Police are piloting a swarm of new, hi-tech tools. We deserve to know more about them

There are many unanswered questions about how technologies are being used, why they are necessary, and whether they risk infringing on human rights or privacy, write Andrew Chen and Kristiann Allen.

The idea of “emergence”, in a philosophical sense, is the notion that a system can have properties, behaviours and naturally forming rules or patterns that individual parts of the system do not have by themselves – the interactions between the components create something new. Snowflakes demonstrate this phenomenon, where individual ice crystals form and grow as they circulate in the air, leading to unpredictable but complex patterns. This perspective considers how seemingly independent parts of a system co-evolve.

Earlier this month, RNZ reported on New Zealand Police’s Review of Emergent Technologies. It included a stocktake of technologies “tested, trialled or rolled out” by NZ Police, from locating where 111 calls are coming from to facial recognition technology for finding people in CCTV footage. In total, 20 technologies were identified with a further nine “under consideration”. The review was urgently commissioned after the police commissioner was caught unaware that the High Tech Crime Unit had trialled the controversial Clearview AI product – understandably, he wanted to know if there were any other unknown surprises on the horizon.

READ MORE

LINK: https://www.thespinoff.co.nz/society/01-12-2020/the-trialling-of-new-tech-by-nz-police-leaves-more-questions-than-answers/?fbclid=IwAR02_gkkyj185-4eJL_yB54nr8XM7UWNWB2SXcrNyeS0Dn096J4B-rkCiII

Did you know NZ is a leader in governmental use of AI?… there’s been a call for an independent regulator here to monitor & address the associated risks of the tech

From theconversation.com

New Zealand is a leader in government use of artificial intelligence (AI). It is part of a global network of countries that use predictive algorithms in government decision making, for anything from the optimal scheduling of public hospital beds to whether an offender should be released from prison, based on their likelihood of reoffending, or the efficient processing of simple insurance claims.

But the official use of AI algorithms in government has been in the spotlight in recent years. On the plus side, AI can enhance the accuracy, efficiency and fairness of day-to-day decision making. But concerns have also been expressed regarding transparency, meaningful human control, data protection and bias.

In a report released today, we recommend New Zealand establish a new independent regulator to monitor and address the risks associated with these digital technologies.


Read more: To protect us from the risks of advanced artificial intelligence, we need to act now


AI and transparency

There are three important issues regarding transparency.

One relates to the inspectability of algorithms. Some aspects of New Zealand government practice are reassuring. Unlike some countries that use commercial AI products, New Zealand has tended to build government AI tools in-house. This means that we know how the tools work.

But intelligibility is another issue. Knowing how an AI system works doesn’t guarantee the decisions it reaches will be understood by the people affected. The best performing AI systems are often extremely complex.

To make explanations intelligible, additional technology is required. A decision-making system can be supplemented with an “explanation system”. These are additional algorithms “bolted on” to the main algorithm we seek to understand. Their job is to construct simpler models of how the underlying algorithms work – simple enough to be understandable to people. We believe explanation systems will be increasingly important as AI technology advances.

A final type of transparency relates to public access to information about the AI systems used in government. The public should know what AI systems their government uses as well as how well they perform. Systems should be regularly evaluated and summary results made available to the public in a systematic format.


Read more: Avoid the politics and let artificial intelligence decide your vote in the next election


New Zealand’s law and transparency

Our report takes a detailed look at how well New Zealand law currently handles these transparency issues.

New Zealand doesn’t have laws specifically tailored towards algorithms, but some are relevant in this context. For instance, New Zealand’s Official Information Act (OIA) provides a right to reasons for decisions by official agencies, and this is likely to apply to algorithmic decisions just as much as human ones. This is in notable contrast to Australia, which doesn’t impose a general duty on public officials to provide reasons for their decisions.

But even the OIA would come up short where decisions are made or supported by opaque decision systems. That is why we recommend that predictive algorithms used by government, whether developed commercially or in-house, must feature in a public register, must be publicly inspectable, and (if necessary) must be supplemented with explanation systems.

Human control and data protection

Another issue relates to human control. Some of the concerns around algorithmic decision-making are best addressed by making sure there is a “human in the loop,” with a human having final sign off on any important decision. However, we don’t think this is likely to be an adequate solution in the most important cases.


Read more: Automated vehicles may encourage a new breed of distracted drivers


A persistent theme of research in industrial psychology is that humans become overly trusting and uncritical of automated systems, especially when those systems are reliable most of the time. Just adding a human “in the loop” will not always produce better outcomes. Indeed in certain contexts, human collaboration will offer false reassurance, rendering AI-assisted decisions less accurate.

With respect to data protection, we flag the problem of “inferred data”. This is data inferred about people rather than supplied by them directly (just as when Amazon infers that you might like a certain book on the basis of books it knows you have purchased). Among other recommendations, our report calls for New Zealand to consider the legal status of inferred data, and whether it should be treated the same way as primary data.

Bias and discrimination

A final area of concern is bias. Computer systems might look unbiased, but if they are relying on “dirty data” from previous decisions, they could have the effect of “baking in” discriminatory assumptions and practices. New Zealand’s anti-discrimination laws are likely to apply to algorithmic decisions, but making sure discrimination doesn’t creep back in will require ongoing monitoring.

The report also notes that while “individual rights” — for example, against discrimination — are important, we can’t entirely rely on them to guard against all of these risks. For one thing, affected people will often be those with the least economic or political power. So while they may have the “right” not to be discriminated against, it will be cold comfort to them if they have no way of enforcing it.

There is also the danger that they won’t be able to see the whole picture, to know whether an algorithm’s decisions are affecting different sections of the community differently. To enable a broader discussion about bias, public evaluation of AI tools should arguably include results for specific sub-populations, as well as for the whole population.

A new independent body will be essential if New Zealand wants to harness the benefits of algorithmic tools while avoiding or minimising their risks to the public.

Alistair Knott, James Maclaurin and Joy Liddicoat, collaborators on the AI and Law in New Zealand project, have contributed to the writing of this piece.

SOURCE

https://theconversation.com/call-for-independent-watchdog-to-monitor-nz-government-use-of-artificial-intelligence-117589

https://www.biometricupdate.com/201905/academics-call-on-new-zealand-to-regulate-ai-as-brookings-issues-guidance

Image by Computerizer from Pixabay

 

The sale of your public assets by council … “away from the glare of public commentary”

THIS TELLS THE WHOLE STORY. The Master Plan was the brainchild of the council’s economic development board according to a timeline in the Master Plan document. Former mayor Brendan Duffy and Mr Clapperton confirmed support for the Master Plan one day after the concept was presented to them by the board, and “In a councillor column in a community newspaper last year Councillor Neville Gimblett said the medical centre land deal…

“….reinforced that effective growth is a partnership between council, central government and private enterprise….away from the unsettling glare of public commentary..” …. Cr Gimblett, HDC

AWAY FROM THE GLARE OF PUBLIC COMMENTARY? … REALLY?


New medical centre for Levin first project of Horowhenua NZ Trust

One of the first projects the recently established Horowhenua New Zealand Trust hopes to project lead is a new medical centre on public land Horowhenua District Council sold to BOHR Property Ltd late last year.

Council’s chief executive David Clapperton and council’s economic development manager Shanon Grainger have both publicly stated the medical centre project will be led by the Horowhenua NZ Trust.

At the FCB meeting on 18 September 2017 Mr Clapperton said “the new purpose-built medical centre” was a Master Plan project which he described as, “the product of years of collective effort” …before going on to say, “it can be anticipated that further large scale projects like the medical centre will flow into our district.”

In his council report on supporting the establishment of the Horowhenua NZ Trust Mr Grainger said the Trust’s role up to July 2018 is to roll out Project Lift including, “a series of modern process-designed projects” which are part of the, “Master Plan: Quality Care and Lifestyle for Older People.”

Six former Horowhenua District Council economic development board members have now been named as trustees in a recently filed Trust Deed including Cameron Lewis, Antony Young, Andrew Wynn, Ron Turk, Evan Kroll and Larry Ellison.

Concerns have been raised by residents about whether the community will benefit from an extensive number of land and property development, construction and infrastructure projects the charitable trust intends to initiate throughout the district.

The public were excluded from participating in the council sale of the now demolished 100 year old historic Jack Allen House in Durham Street, Levin to BOHR Property Ltd for a new medical centre.

Due to the secrecy around the sale of the Jack Allen House there is concern about how transparent council will be about an intention to transfer up to 40 percent of public assets to the Trust as “seed” funding.

In a councillor column in a community newspaper last year Councillor Neville Gimblett said the medical centre land deal, “reinforced that effective growth is a partnership between council, central government and private enterprise….away from the unsettling glare of public commentary.”

According to Companies Office information Levin Chartered Accountant Hamid & McHutchon Ltd of Queen Street holds 116 of a total of 120 shares “on behalf” of other un-named shareholders of BOHR Property Ltd and Hamid & McHutchon Ltd is not the “ultimate holding company.”

The two directors of BOHR Property Ltd including Bente Ongkiehong and Johannes Roberti own two shares each worth 1.67 percent.

The Master Plan was the brainchild of the council’s economic development board according to a timeline in the Master Plan document. Former mayor Brendan Duffy and Mr Clapperton confirmed support for the Master Plan one day after the concept was presented to them by the board.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK1806/S00287/new-levin-medical-centre-first-horowhenua-nz-trust-project.htm

© Scoop Media

 

Halt the forced sale of Penny Bright’s house – ‘Open the Books’ Ak City Council!

Instruct CEO Stephen Town to halt the sale of Penny Bright’s house.

Public watchdog, and recipient of Eden Albert Community Board’s Good Citizen’s Award in 2010, is having her house sold over her head by Auckland Council for non payment of rates. 

“Open the books,” is Penny Bright’s catch phrase. She has not paid her rates, as she has put them on hold until Auckland Council tells us how our rate payers money is being spent. 

“It’s time to stop the commercialisation and privatisation of Council services and regulatory functions, and return to the genuine ‘public service’ model.”
Penny is standing for “transparency and value for money” for rate payers. Penny’s ‘punishment’ for her ethical stand is to have her house forcibly sold, and the overdue rates taken from the proceeds.

Why is this important?

Auckland Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Town, has not followed lawful due process regarding Auckland Council’s Rating Sale Policy.
A Charging Order was supposed to have been imposed on the title to Penny’s property, after the Judgment Debt of $47,431.76 was awarded in the Auckland District Court on 18 January 2017, and before the forced Rating Sale Application was filed in the Auckland High Court on 7 March 2017.
There is no such Charging Order.
These forced Rating Sale proceedings must be withdrawn forthwith.

Background information to this petition:
What Penny has been seeking for the last eleven years are for the following details of awarded contracts to be made available for public scrutiny, by publishing them on the websites of Auckland Council, and all Auckland Council-Controlled Organisations (CC0s) under ‘Procurement – Awarded Contracts’:
* The unique contract number.
* The name of the consultant/contractor.
* A brief description of the scope of the contract.
* Contract start/finish dates.
* The exact dollar value of every contract, including those sub-contracted.
* How the contract was awarded, by direct appointment or public tender.

Details around the sale:
“The Auckland Council Rating Sales Policy (CP2013/01403) states:
“14: The rating sales process is outlined by the following steps:
1. legal proceedings are initiated, and a court judgment issued with a Charging Order (registered on title documents) against the property.
16. The power to enforce a rating sale comes with a significant responsibility to ensure that the power is not used inappropriately.
A policy on rating sales is therefore being developed to ensure that there are clear rules regarding rating sales.”

“The ‘Composite Computer Register Under Land Transfer Act 1952, (search date 8 March 2017) shows no Charging Order registered against Penny’s property for the Judgment Debt of $47,431.76, given in the Auckland District Court on 18 January 2017.”

It appears that Auckland Council CEO Stephen Town, has not followed Auckland Council’s ‘Rating Sale Policy’.

For more information see:

This evidence that conclusively proves the CEO hasn’t followed the Rating Sale Process.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5pXI2s5sgTST2pWbzFVQjJfSGlDWTNRdVBCUEI0WEZwRmhr/view

And listen or read here:
https://www.ourplanet.org/greenplanetfm/penny-bright-anti-corruption-campaigner
and
https://www.ourplanet.org/greenplanetfm/penny-bright-is-new-zealand-really-one-of-the-least-corrupt-countries-in-the-world