Computer Science Speaking Skills Talk

Monday, October 25, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Traffic21 Classroom Gates Hillman 6501



Toward fairer and more transparent civic participation

Citizens' assemblies are a form of civic participation in which a panel of randomly-chosen constituents convenes to hear testimony from experts, deliberate, and ultimately make a policy recommendation on a political issue. These assemblies offer a unique combination of features: they give everyday people the opportunity to participate directly in political decision-making, while also ensuring that these decision-makers are well-informed and have spent time digesting and hearing others' perspectives on the issues at hand. In the recent decades, citizens' assemblies are experiencing a surge in popularity worldwide: they are now being administered by more than 40 organizations in over 25 countries; are commissioned by public authorities on municipal, regional, national and supranational levels; and have recently led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Ireland.

Our research on citizens' assemblies aims to ensure that the process by which participants are selected is fair [1,2] and transparent [3]. We provide a set of algorithms for selecting participants of citizens' assemblies, each which is guaranteed to be maximally fair for a different fairness notion [2], propose a simple and transparent method of panel selection by uniform lottery, which we prove is always possible to carry out with limited loss in fairness [3], and discuss the prospect of end to end fairness, which deals with giving all members of the population an equal chance of participation [1], rather than all self-identifying willing participants.

[1] Neutralizing Self-Selection Bias in Sampling for Sortition
[2] Fair Algorithms for Selecting Citizens' Assemblies
[3] Fair Sortition made Transparent.

Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the CSD Speaking Skills Requirement.

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Speaking Skills