From Digital to Cognitive Government

Prof. Tomasz Janowski
Prof. Tomasz Janowski

Institutional Communication Service

30 April 2018

An ever increasing share of government functions - providing public services and infrastructure, formulating and implementing public policies, maintaining social order and security, stimulating socioeconomic growth, etc. is aided by digital technology. Policy makers, program managers, back-office staff and front-office staff routinely use digital tools to interact with citizens, make decisions, coordinate implementations and monitor results. In the process, the traditional "analog" version of government is transformed into modern "digital" government. This transformation deeply affects the foundations - structures, processes and culture of traditional public administration and gives rise to new forms of participatory, networked, open, mobile, etc. governance. While the analog-to-digital transformation assumes the central role for human decision-making based on intelligence, intuition and empathy, a new family of cognitive technologies are beginning to question this assumption.

These technologies, including cloud computing, computer vision, data analytics, machine learning, robotics, speech recognition, etc. and systems based on them, already appear in a whole range of government applications, from national security and criminal justice, to health care, transportation and tourism. They help answer citizen queries, detect fraud, carry out medical imaging, assess criminal risk, provide travel assistance, drive autonomous vehicles and optimize medical emergency response. With enough data to train them, cognitive systems can outperform humans, and with lowering technology costs versus increasing personnel costs gradually put them out of the loop. However, the digital-to-cognitive transformation also raises a host of important policy, regulatory and ethical concerns that bring back the need for human oversight, control and commonsense.

The Faculty of Communication Sciences at USI, in the context of its "Visiting Professors Program", is pleased to host Prof. Tomasz Janowski, Gdańsk University of Technology, Poland, for a public lecture (in English) on Wednesday, May 9 (5:30PM, room A31, USI Lugano campus) at which he will describe the digital-to-cognitive transformation in government, examine and illustrate the opportunities and risks of this transformation, and draw parallels with analog-to-digital transformation.

For information: [email protected]


Tomasz Janowski is the Head of the Department of Applied Informatics in Management at the Faculty of Economics and Management, Gdańsk University of Technology, Poland. He is also Invited Professor at Danube University Krems, Austria; Invited Professor at Lugano University, Switzerland; and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Government Information Quarterly, Elsevier. During 1995-2016 he worked for the United Nations University in China and Portugal where he founded and during 2004-2016 directed research and development programme focused on digital government. As part of this programme, he conducted lectures, projects, trainings and consultations in 61 countries around the world. In 2007, he founded the International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance and during 2007-2017 coordinated 10 editions of the conference that took place in Macao, Cairo, Bogota, Beijing, Tallinn, Albany, Seoul, Guimarães, Montevideo and New Delhi. He is the author or co-author of over 250 publications including technical and policy reports prepared for organizations such as CTO, European Commission, IDRC, ITU, Macao Foundation, Microsoft, OSCE, UNDP, UNESCO and the World Bank, and for governments in Africa, Asia and Latin America. His research focuses on Digital Government and Development Informatics. He obtained Habilitation in Management Sciences (equivalent) from the Gdańsk University of Technology, PhD in Computer Science from the University of Warwick, UK, and MSc in Mathematics from the University of Gdańsk.