Meet ION, Romania’s first AI government counselor

Deep tech company, in collaboration with the best AI researchers and professors from Romania and the Romanian Government, is using artificial intelligence technology to address the absence of real-time communication between citizens and the government. This initiative has given birth to ION, the first AI Counselor to the Romanian Government that leverages state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, natural language processing and complex computer vision techniques to promptly and accurately capture the opinions of Romanian citizens using publicly available data from social media networks.

From a technical perspective, ION leverages AI algorithms and unsupervised learning methods, as well as deep neural networks, which automatically identify topics of interest to the public administration, prioritizing discussion on social media based on their impact on the public sector, and provide decision-makers and lawmakers with a bird’s eye view on the expectations of citizens at the local and national level. ION will represent the modern version of the ancient Agora, a link between citizens and decision-makers, where everyone’s voice matters.

The first AI government counsellor in the world automatically captures the opinions of citizens using anonymously publicly available data on social networks with the ultimate goal of disseminating conclusive information in the form of real-time updated reports.

ION is the AI of the Romanians. It will always be apolitical and never belong to an administration or a political party.

ION is an initiative started independently by the AI and research community and universities in Romania and was created to collect and represent the wishes, thoughts and problems of Romanians to the governors, supporting them to promptly come up with solutions for these public issues. The Romanian government has publicly assumed its support for this initiative, taking concrete initiatives to solve problems after they are reported.

Who is ION?

ION is a complex research project carried out pro bono by artificial intelligence researchers focused on using cutting-edge technology and research in artificial intelligence as well as Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Computer Vision to build an intelligent and innovative system that quickly and automatically captures Romanians’ opinions. ION’s ultimate goal is to disseminate conclusive information to decision-makers to support the formulation of public policies consistent with the state of society. The ION AI Government Advisor is not a classic technology solution but an innovation in continuous development by the research team.

A technology solution can be considered a product developed by a private company that uses technology to meet market needs and generate profit. In most cases, technology solutions are developed in a commercial environment, intending to reach the market in a relatively short time (weeks or months) to generate profit. Unlike commercial technology solutions, the ION research initiative does not aim to create monetary profits but to facilitate communication between Romanians and their Government.

ION connects citizens with decision-makers

The widespread adoption of digital communication and the extensive use of social networks has fundamentally altered how Romanian citizens perceive and respond to society’s constantly shifting social and political climate. Comments on social media regarding the various services provided by state institutions — whether positive or negative — offer valuable insights into the level of citizen satisfaction and serve as a measure of performance regarding Romania’s public administration.

As such, politicians must have the necessary tools to gather and extract this information and incorporate it into their decision-making processes. AI technologies can serve as the ideal instruments for creating public policies responsive to the evolving needs of the people. To this end, ION — the application developed by the best Romanian researchers and professors in the field — will enable real-time communication between citizens and governors, adapted to the 21st century.

ION meets the needs of the public sector by bridging the communication gap between citizens and governments. At its core, it is a system that will use new technologies to quickly and automatically capture the opinions of Romanians using publicly available data on social networks, with the ultimate goal of disseminating conclusive information to policymakers to build public policies consistent with the state of society.

The recent experience of the SARS-COV-2 pandemic has once again highlighted the need for real-time information but, perhaps more importantly, the need for relevant and accurate information to act as a foundation for efficient decisions making. In the age of technology, innovation shouldn’t be attributed only to private companies, as public institutions can also become hubs for innovation and information management. This idea is emphasized by the fact that citizens’ expectations are related to the level of services and technology offered by private companies. Modern and efficient public services need to anticipate the dynamic needs of citizens and formulate a timely response for maximum effect.

Inside the mind of ION

ION is the world’s first AI government advisor that leverages state-of-the-art AI technology to shatter the outdated insular approach to the governmental decision-making process, deaf to the voice of its citizens. At its heart, ION is a direct communication channel that connects citizens with decision-makers by facilitating citizens’ electronic participation in decisions that directly impact their lives. ION represents the voice of the people, the fifth branch of power in a state, free, unbiased, and driven by data & heart.

ION bridges the gap between citizens and the state in three steps:

· Phase I — ION listens and learns the opinions sent by people on topics of interest, collecting their views and creating a single created from multiple real voices offered for a limited time by citizens.

· Phase II — ION brings everyone together, unlocking unparalleled levels of transparency necessary for a just, fair and representative government.

· Phase III — Representation. ION represents citizens by participating in government meetings, extracting and essentializing data to transmit it efficiently to decision-makers.

ION communicates the will of the people with the voice of the people

In addition to the software reporting of the ION app, the project also has a physical component represented by a robot-type installation, which will be able to interact with Romanians at the most important public events, taking data both from the online environment and through physical interactions with the population.

People can send ION messages on social media by using the tag @noisuntemion.

The website www. invites Romanians who want to offer their unique vocal timbre to form the voice of ION, for the events where the robot installation will speak publicly to transmit messages of public interest and interact with the population.

Donated voices are collected anonymously and are automatically deleted within one month from the date of their transmission, being retrieved only to be transformed by AI algorithms into a single voice of ION.

All messages and data sent through the website or the @noisuntemion tag in social media are retrieved and forwarded anonymously. In this way, with the help of artificial intelligence, the citizens of Romania will have a common voice — the voice of the citizens, which enables governors to implement relevant public policies that mirror the evolution of society.

ION objectives

The ION project is designed to serve two main objectives:

1. Identifying, extracting, and clustering relevant information for policymakers

To engage citizens directly in decision-making, ION assesses the most influential posts on social networks. From a technical point of view, ION achieves this by measuring the number of likes and comments on Facebook or similar metrics on other social platforms. Afterwards, relevant topics of interest are identified using Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Deep Learning methods.

Finally, these topics are grouped based on their meaning and sentiment analysis (positive or negative) using unsupervised learning methods. The ultimate goal of identifying topics of interest is for political decision-makers to demonstrate their commitment to serving the needs and concerns of Romanian citizens.

2. Information dissemination to political decision-makers, based on the “need to know” principle, aiming the implementation of relevant public policies

After socially relevant topics are identified, they are tracked for some time to provide a deeper understanding of the perspective of their dynamics and the evolution of their importance over time. Leveraging AI technology in this way gives the citizens of Romania a collective dynamic voice that reflects their needs and concerns.

This online voice will provide politicians with the insight necessary to develop and implement more relevant and effective public policies that align with the evolving needs of society. Additionally, artificial intelligence algorithms help prioritize and categorize the identified topics based on the area of interest and efficiently disseminate this information to political decision-makers according to the need-to-know principle, streamlining the operations of public institutions.

How ION works?

ION employs unsupervised learning and processing algorithms fine-tuned to capture society’s opinions and views on topics of interest in an automatic, natural, balanced, and unbiased way by:

1. Accessing and filtering online public social media posts and opinions based on relevance. Only public posts that will be collected anonymously will be used to centralize topics of interest.

2. Automatic extraction of “topics” from relevant posts. For each post selected in the previous step, topics considered relevant by the Romanian society will be extracted, such as those related to government activity, events of national importance, the standard of living, sports and entertainment, health or food topics, energy and more.

3. Establishing an initial set of relevant “topics” or “opinions” from the semantics of the extracted posts for an efficient reporting of the conclusions.

4. Formulating an “opinion graph” based on the “topics” extracted in Step 3. Each such “opinion” or “topic” group (associated with a feeling which can be positive or negative) will become a node in an “opinion graph”.

5. Dynamic reporting of the opinion graph. This graph of fundamental opinions, as well as the formation of superclusters of opinions or views, will be completely automatic and neutral, being the result of algorithms unsupervised by humans.

The mindset behind ION

Technology research projects like ION are developed in an academic or research environment and take longer to complete. Their ultimate goal is not to generate profit but to analyze how an aspect of technology works to create or improve applications. Projects of this type are more innovation-oriented, and the development process is a bit slower and more rigorous, with an emphasis on testing and validating each hypothesis before moving on to the next step.

This is one of the reasons why commercial technology solutions arrive faster on the market, while technology research projects are slower and more methodical in their approach.

ION is not a technology solution, although it borrows some of its attributes, namely those of satisfying people’s needs but not in any marketable way, focusing solely on serving citizens. At the same time, this project is in the early stages of research from a technical and scientific point of view.

Note*: ION is the Romanian equivalent of John.’s CEO presents at the EAPC 2024 Event in Berlin: “AI: Enrichment or Risk?”’s CEO presents at the EAPC 2024 Event in Berlin: “AI: Enrichment or Risk?” On May 16, 2024, in Berlin, people cultivated in politics, elections, and artificial intelligence (AI) will come together for an...
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