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Rita Allen Foundation Supports Digital Democracy Platform

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Digital Democracy is like YouTube for local government hearings, bolstered with a splash of artificial intelligence. Bots create transcripts of lawmakers’ every official utterance at the state house and use face recognition software to keep track of who’s speaking. Voters can search the transcripts by speaker and subject while at the same time getting a glimpse of legislators’ financial ties. The non-profit effort launched in California back in 2015, and today, it’s expanding to New York.

The Digital Democracy platform, funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Rita Allen Foundation, is a collaboration between man and machine. Students at Cal Poly review each transcript for accuracy before it goes live. They also compile a profile page for each legislator, complete with an itemized list of gifts that person has received.