Week 37 —Close to the Finish Line
Less than 3 weeks away from when Regulatory Evaluation Platform prototypes are due
The night before a day off is a wonderful time to sit, reflect and think. It’s been a busier than usual 2 months which means I haven’t had the time to deep dive into as many topics as I was hoping to. I’m going to see if I can carve time into my schedule to write my weeknotes during work hours so it’s not an extra thing I do on my own time but a part of my job. In fact, I think the practice of documenting our work and sharing in the open should become part of our jobs and not a thing we do on the side.
3 Weeks Until Regulatory Evaluation Platform (REP) Prototypes Are Done
When we originally launched the RFP process for the REP project back in April, it seemed like a distant dream that a live AI prototype would be ready. Here we are in November and we are 3 weeks away from having prototypes in our hands. It’s an exciting and nerve wracking milestone for the work to bring in machine learning and natural language processing into regulatory analysis and insight gathering.
Our contractors have started to show “inside the black box” but also we are starting to see something “tangiable” as in something with a user interface which gives a front end or a “window” into using AI in a practical way. As soon as I saw the prototypes my mind started to churn about what kind of scenarios I could run. What if I took the Food and Drug Regulations and compared it with the same kinds of regulations in the US? What if I took the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and found out how it ranked in terms of “modernization” compared to the other regulations adminstered by the Labour Program. As an analyst and policy nerd at heart, my mind naturally drifts to wanting to dive deep into unpacking data, figuring out the story and rifing different kinds of insights.
With only 3 weeks to go, the concept of the prototypes that use AI to support advanced regulatory analysis is real. It’s quite the feeling!
AI Demonstrator Projects (Incorporation by Reference, Regulatory Evaluation Platform, Rules as Code)
Regulatory Evaluation Platform: I think I covered most of my excitement above but being less than 3 weeks away from prototypes has me giddy. It’s all coming together very nicely!
However, like I have shared in previous weeks there is a lot of reflection to be done about the process itself, how prepared we are to do AI, whether we were too ambitious and would have been better served sticking to a narrower scope among other thoughts. If I could share one thought for the week it would be this:
- The balance between being prescriptive and being generous in the statement of work is a fine line. Despite being excited about the work done to date, I would be lieing if I didn’t say certain parts of the process have caused me pain and concern. So where is the fine line between being prescriptive in what I want vs. leaving enough room for creativity. What if someone delivers what I need but not in the way I asked for it? Someday, I want to sit down with a procurement expert and unpack all of this. From the point of view of someone on the outside looking in, it seems absurd. In some ways, it seems the procurement system punishes creativity in favour of rigid adherence to the statement of work. However, I feel like I must be missing something as a non procurement person.
Incorporation by Reference: Work in training the model continues. We are running into some challenges training the model but working on how to overcome the challenges. What is striking is how hard it is to train a model on something so nuanced and technical. We underestimated how difficult it would be (as in there is a definition for incorporation by reference and it is a widely used practice). Turns out, it is more complicated than that because many times a lawyer is the only one who can determine whether a reference is actually an incorporation by reference. Another lesson learned: areas that require high human subjectvitiy are really tough to automate.
Rules as Code: So last week we were two steps away. This week, we are one step away! Progress!
Rebuilding the Public Service From The Ground Up: Week 23
Week 23 I want to reflect on managing the sheer volume of information that the modern public servant encounters. While the specific numbers can vary, the number of emails, meetings, pages of documents etc. is overwhelming for many. How do we get a better hold on managing this information?
Idea 23: Dedicated Time to Manage Yourself
Information overload for the knowledge worker is not a unique observation. The amount of information being generated has never as high as it is now. However, our minds (and often our processes) haven’t adapted to manage the ever increasing volume of information.
Countless “technology solutions” have tried to solve this problem from document management systems to productivity systems. For the purposes of this idea, I am going to ignore that side of the puzzle and instead focus on human behaviour. Not enough of us are taking the time to collect our thoughts, organize our information and prepare ourselves for success.
Even though I am a firm believer in the value of this practice, I lapse all the time. The idea is that you take between 30–45 minutes a day to reflect on what happened that past day; what action items do you have, what is due, what important things did you learn etc. The other part of this deliberate window is what I call setting yourself up for success. Take a look at your calendar and task list for the next day; what meetings do you have, what is due, what do you need to read etc.
This system works wonders for me as it gives me the time to organize a crazy chaotic day into order. It also gives me a chance to reflect on what is coming up next and prepare as needed.
I’ve found that when I am consistent in this practice that I feel more like “I am on top of things” and less “I feel like I’m missing something important”.
So 37 weeks are in the books. Hope everyone has a good week!