23 episodes

Let’s Think Digital is a podcast about what it takes to use digital technologies to transform our world to improve peoples’ lives. Hosted by Ryan Androsoff, Founder of Think Digital, alongside an incredible community of digital innovators from all walks of life, in this podcast we go beyond the traditional tech hype of founder culture, user counts, funding rounds and quarterly profits. Instead we talk about why systems resist change, and how transformation is just as much about people and culture as it is about tech stacks. We’re eager to talk about the political and philosophical ramifications of technology and what it means for the future of government. Our goal is to help you to learn about how digital is impacting our world, to ask better questions, and to be able to call bullshit when you need to!

Let's Think Digital Think Digital

    • Technology
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

Let’s Think Digital is a podcast about what it takes to use digital technologies to transform our world to improve peoples’ lives. Hosted by Ryan Androsoff, Founder of Think Digital, alongside an incredible community of digital innovators from all walks of life, in this podcast we go beyond the traditional tech hype of founder culture, user counts, funding rounds and quarterly profits. Instead we talk about why systems resist change, and how transformation is just as much about people and culture as it is about tech stacks. We’re eager to talk about the political and philosophical ramifications of technology and what it means for the future of government. Our goal is to help you to learn about how digital is impacting our world, to ask better questions, and to be able to call bullshit when you need to!

    In Conversation with the Minister of Citizens' Services, Terry Beech

    In Conversation with the Minister of Citizens' Services, Terry Beech

    (Help shape the future of this podcast! Take our Season 2 listener survey at LetsThinkDigital.ca)
    If there’s a running theme this season on the podcast, it’s about how we seem to be stuck in the mud when it comes to our efforts to modernize government for the digital age. Check out our previous episodes this season for some insightful and thought-provoking perspectives on why this might be the case.
    So how do we get unstuck? One of the key factors that many of our guests have pointed to is the need for political leadership. And our guest this week for our Season 2 finale is the perfect person to talk to about this.
    Terry Beech is the Canadian Minister of Citizens’ Services. He was appointed into this role by Prime Minister Trudeau in July of last year with a mandate to drive digital transformation in some high profile service areas, as well as accelerating and expanding the use of the Canadian Digital Service across government.
    In our interview, we talk about his vision for how to modernize government, the challenges of bringing legacy systems like Old Age Security into the 21st century, why the Canadian Digital Service is needed now more than ever, and how getting voters to care about digital may not be as hard as you might think.
    Watch on YouTube
    https://youtube.com/watch?v=QsdpMTv9x1Q
    Related Links
    Minister of Citizens' Services Mandate LetterTerry Beech Official BiographyCanadian Digital Service WebsiteSeason 2 Listener Survey
    Chapters
    00:00 Intro and Welcome
    02:56 Interview with Terry Beech
    14:42 Priorities for the Ministry
    25:18 Modernizing Old Age Security
    38:44 The Future of the Canadian Digital Service
    46:18 Getting Voters to Care
    55:01 Conclusion

    • 56 min
    The End of the Ontario Digital Service and What it Means

    The End of the Ontario Digital Service and What it Means

    A few weeks ago, I got a late night message on our team’s Slack that made me do a double-take and was - to be frank - a real shock. It was a link to a Reddit thread that was titled “Ontario Digital Service is Officially Dead.”
    ODS had a simple but ambitious mission: transform Ontario’s government services and practices for the digital age. It was led by Hillary Hartley, a veteran of digital transformation efforts like 18F in the United States Federal Government, who took on the role of not just leading ODS but serving as the first Chief Digital and Data Officer for the Ontario Government.
    ODS did groundbreaking work for government: New digital service standards and legislation, building user research labs, and creating really great apps and digital tools. But ODS was about more than just digital products. It was just as much about people. Passionate public servants driven by the belief that interacting with government should be easy and, in Hillary’s words, delightful.
    So it came as a shock when I found out that the Ontario Digital Service was being shut down. Not with a bang, but quietly and without fanfare via an internal memo informing staff that ODS was being disbanded. There has been little public discussion on what ODS’ contribution to the Ontario government has been, nor what this decision might mean for other government digital teams or the digital government movement more broadly.
    On this episode of the podcast, we tell the story of the ODS over the past 7 years, and what it means now that it has ended, from those who were there at the beginning. We hear from Hillary Hartley about leading the ODS as Ontario's first Chief Digital Officer. We also hear from Karim Bardeesy who was Director of Policy and Deputy Principal Secretary for Premiere Kathleen Wynne when ODS was first being conceptualized. Tanya Coyle, was a long time public servant in Ontario who became one of the co-founders of this new digital startup team in the heart of the Ontario government. And Honey Dacanay was part of the founding team of ODS when it was still what we sometimes call in the tech world a “two-pizza team”.
    Related Links
    Ontario Digital Service is officially dead (Reddit)Ontario government disbands remnants of Ontario Digital Service by David Reevely, The LogicFirst blogpost by the team that set-up ODSByte-Sized Progress: Assessing Digital Transformation in the Government of Canada, The DaisOntario Digital Service
    Watch on YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-nZ3G14zyU
    Chapters
    00:04 Introduction
    03:11 Hillary Hartley joins the ODS
    04:33 The role of political leadership
    11:50 Accomplishments of the ODS
    21:11 What does the disbanding mean?
    28:14 Hillary reflects on the end of ODS
    34:22 Conclusion

    • 36 min
    Everything You Should Know About AI (but were afraid to ask)

    Everything You Should Know About AI (but were afraid to ask)

    It's only been a year since our last episode on artificial intelligence, but already a lot has changed. It seems like Generative AI is everywhere and everyone, including governments, are struggling to keep up. So on this episode Ryan is joined by a special co-host Jen Schellinck, Think Digital Associate and our resident expert on AI and cognitive science to talk about what you need to know when it comes to AI. We're also joined by Paul Craig, the creator of the TaxGPT AI bot, and Shan Gu, Founder and CEO of Foci Solutions. Both Paul and Shan share their experience working with AI projects in and around the public sector and discuss their insights on what they have learned.
    In our conversation we talk about the current state of AI technology, the questions that governments should be asking when thinking about using AI, and most importantly the question on everyone's mind, who is more intelligent: ChatGPT or Ryan's cat?
    (Note: At 3:26, Jen refers to a steady state model. She meant to say state space model)
    Related Links
    Episode 8: Government in the Era of ChatGPTTaxGPTTowards a Considered Use of AI Technologies in Government by The Institute on Governance and Think Digital
    Watch on YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B685AEvbbcI
    Chapters
    00:00 Introduction and Welcome
    01:27 The Current State of the Art for Generative AI
    06:15 AI's Expansion: Beyond Text to Visuals and More
    10:27 Generative AI in Government: Policies and Adaptation
    18:04 Paul Craig and TaxGPT
    24:44 Learnings from Running TaxGPT
    38:04 Shan Gu and Adopting AI tech in government
    45:42 The Future of AI in Government: Opportunities and Challenges
    52:21 Is ChatGPT more intelligent than Ryan's cat?
    01:08:02 Conclusion

    • 1 hr 10 min
    Speakers' Corner at FWD50 (with Alistair Croll and Rebecca Croll)

    Speakers' Corner at FWD50 (with Alistair Croll and Rebecca Croll)

    If you haven’t heard of FWD50, you should! It’s one of the premiere conferences on digital modernization in government and exists to help answer one vital question: How do we use technology to make society better for all? Many of this season’s podcast conversations were recorded on location at the conference in Ottawa last November.
    On this episode of Let’s Think Digital you are going to get an opportunity to hear directly from some of the participants in last year’s conference. We had set-up a Speakers’ Corner booth where we invited anyone at FWD50 who wanted to share their views on what their hope for the future of digital government is and what they think is stopping us from getting there.
    We kick-off this episode with a wonderful conversation with two of the key founders and organizers of FWD50, Alistair Croll and Rebecca Croll. They talk about what it's like to organize the conference, highlights from the 2023 event, and give us a sneak peek of what they have in store for the 2024 edition and why you should go.
    Make sure to fill out the 2024 FWD50 content survey and help shape the agenda!
    Learn more about FWD50 at: https://www.fwd50.com
    Finally a big thanks to Amy Kirtay, Andy Best, Amanda Bernardo, Liz Christie, Charles Finley, Dea De Jarisco, Roy Nader, Derek Alton, Urooj Qureshi, Pascale Elvas, James Duncan, Jeff Outram, and Lewis Eisen for appearing on the podcast as part of our Speakers' Corner segment!
    Watch on YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHlB3ujyh6E
    Chapters
    00:04 Introduction
    01:27 Alistair Croll and Rebecca Croll
    30:50 Who are you and why are you at FWD50?
    33:23 What is your vision for government in 2030?
    36:55 What are the barriers to get there?
    40:58 Conclusion

    • 42 min
    Open Source Government (with Aaron Snow)

    Open Source Government (with Aaron Snow)

    It’s fair to say that most governments don’t choose to use open source by default. Despite efforts over the past two decades to make open source solutions a viable, or even default solution in government, there's still a lot of skepticism. Those in decision making positions often raise concerns around security and reliability compared to proprietary software that is viewed as being “safe” even if it is more expensive and less flexible in many cases.
    So what should an open source government look like? And why would we want one?
    To answer these questions, we are joined by Aaron Snow, Faculty Fellow, and former Acting Executive Director for the Georgetown University Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation in Washington DC. Prior to his work at the Beeck Center, Aaron was a US Presidential Innovation Fellow and was subsequently one of the co-founders, and then later Executive Director of 18F, the US government’s in-house technology and design consultancy. In 2018 he moved north of the border and became the first CEO of the Government of Canada’s Canadian Digital Service. And has twice been named one of the “World’s 100 Most Influential People in Digital Government" by Apolitical.
    In our conversation, we talk about why our current approach to technology actually makes government less transparent, and how open source in government might be a moral imperative. If government is creating or procuring software using taxpayer’s money--something that has been in the news with the investigation into the ArriveCan app in Canada--shouldn't government have a requirement to share that code back with the public since it is the public who “owns” it? And how do we ensure that leaders in government know enough about technology to make good decisions about how it is used?
    Watch on YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZJEuTgFK6M
    Related Links
    Digital Service NetworkAaron Snow's WebsiteGeorgetown University Beeck Center for Social Innovation and ImpactAuditor-General to report Monday on how cost of ArriveCan app grew from $80,000 to more than $54-million (Globe and Mail)
    Chapters
    00:00 Introduction
    04:41 Interview with Aaron Snow
    06:13 The Security Aspect of Open Source
    07:46 The Unrealized Promise of Open Source in Government
    13:15 The Need for Strong Political Leadership in Digital Government
    24:03 Modular, Reusable Components in Government
    32:03 Conclusion

    • 34 min
    Building Political Support for Digital Government (with Senator Colin Deacon)

    Building Political Support for Digital Government (with Senator Colin Deacon)

    We want government to be innovative and not be left behind in the digital revolution. But this comes up against the reality of the structures, incentives, and culture of most public sector organizations that resist change. As a result, and as we’ve been talking about on this podcast, our efforts to push forward digital transformation and modernize the business of government seems to be stuck in the mud as of late. So for the dedicated community of those in and adjacent to the public service who believe in the potential of doing things in a different way, it can at times feel a bit lonely.
    As someone who has worked both in the political system and the public service, I know how important clear political leadership is to support these efforts. The good news is that there are those in positions of power and influence who also believe in this vision of modern government.
    Our guest this week is one of them.
    Senator Colin Deacon is an independent Senator for Nova Scotia, appointed in June 2018. He’s made Digital Government one of his focus areas in the Senate and is one of the founders and co-chairs of the Caucus Group on Emerging Technology, a multi-party initiative to help Parliamentarians better understand how technology is impacting policy issues. He is a strong advocate for working across party-lines, and with entrepreneurs, researchers and social innovators to build a more innovative digital economy in Canada.
    Watch on YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZGr0lZ0asY
    Related Links
    About the Diia App in Ukraine (Wikipedia)Parliamentary Budget Office Report: Overview of the Government’s Digital Service TransformationParliamentary Caucus on Emerging TechnologySenator Colin Deacon's Website
    Chapters
    00:05 Introduction
    03:06 Interview with Senator Colin Deacon
    05:23 The Challenges of Implementing Digital Changes in Government
    10:41 The Need for Modernizing Government Operations
    23:40 International Examples of Digital Transformation: Ukraine
    25:35 The Importance of Leadership in Digital Transformation
    25:52 Rethinking Procurement for Digital Solutions
    35:15 The Emerging Technology Caucus Group
    41:02 Closing Remarks

    • 43 min

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