The Tech Humanist Show: Episode 19 – Art Chang

About this episode’s guest:

Art Chang is a mayoral candidate for the city of New York. The son of Korean immigrants and father of 2 boys, Art Chang has spent the last 35 years working as a professional problem solver in NYC. He’s built a dozen startups in the city, all focused on using technology as a force for good. He built Casebook, the first web-based software platform for child welfare, which is now the system of record in the State of Indiana. He put Queens West — the LIC waterfront — in the ground with climate change in mind, making it one of only 2 developments in the city to not lose power during Hurricane Sandy. He also co-created NYC Votes with the Campaign Finance Board to improve participation in our local democracy. He has had the privilege to work at some of NYC’s most important institutions, such as CUNY, the Brooklyn Public Library, the City Law Department, and Brooklyn Tech, giving him the tools and knowledge to make real solutions for the challenges faced by the people of New York City. Visit www.Chang.nyc to learn more and join #TeamChang.

He tweets as @Art4MayorNYC.

This episode streamed live on Thursday, June 17, 2021. Here’s an archive of the show on YouTube:

About the show:

The Tech Humanist Show is a multi-media-format program exploring how data and technology shape the human experience. Hosted by Kate O’Neill.

Subscribe to The Tech Humanist Show hosted by Kate O’Neill channel on YouTube for updates.

Transcript

01:06
all right hello humans
01:08
it’s good to see you again it’s been a
01:10
little while uh let’s see it’s been
01:12
since uh mid-november that to the show
01:15
was on hiatus i like to say i think it’s
01:17
a little more
01:18
elegant sounding than saying i just
01:20
wasn’t doing the program
01:21
uh and i missed you i know you all were
01:24
busy and you didn’t miss me but maybe a
01:26
few of you did maybe you thought about
01:27
me now and then maybe you thought about
01:28
the show and thought
01:29
you know what was really good that
01:31
weekly the tech humanist show program
01:34
because we got into some really great
01:36
discussions with some really great
01:37
guests and talked about some really
01:39
important issues
01:40
and today is going to be no exception i
01:43
am
01:43
so thrilled to be able to welcome a very
01:46
special guest today and i’ll get into
01:47
that
01:48
in just a moment when i read his intro
01:50
and kind of
01:51
cover what we’ll talk about but we’ll be
01:53
talking a lot about cities and tech and
01:55
governance and
01:56
a lot of really interesting topics so be
01:58
sure to start the the engines going in
02:00
your head and thinking about what
02:01
questions you might want to ask or what
02:03
comments you might have queued up
02:04
uh thinking about those topics and feel
02:07
free to start
02:08
asking them actually in the comments if
02:09
you’ve got some already that you’d like
02:11
to
02:11
to have out there um we’ll uh
02:15
we’ll i’ll i’ll make sure to review them
02:17
i’ll look for for the comments and i’ll
02:19
bring them into the show if i find some
02:21
that we really want to include in the
02:23
discussion but
02:24
you know you can chat with other
02:25
participants and all that so uh feel
02:27
free this is a live show and that is the
02:29
real advantage of having a live program
02:31
is being able to
02:32
have that interaction with the other
02:34
people who are who are watching so
02:36
uh we have um uh
02:39
live across youtube and facebook and
02:41
linkedin
02:42
and i think twitter although it looked
02:43
like we might be having some problems
02:45
with twitter
02:46
uh so sorry if we’re missing out on the
02:48
twitter folks right now
02:49
this as you may know already is a what i
02:51
call a multimedia format program
02:53
which means that i as i’m speaking it’s
02:55
being broadcast to all those channels i
02:57
just mentioned but it’s also going to be
02:58
available as an
02:59
archive um on all those channels so
03:02
it’ll be
03:02
as it’s recorded just as this and then
03:05
i will also edit it into an audio
03:08
podcast that gets a release
03:10
next week and so you can look for that
03:12
you can subscribe to that
03:14
um there’s some great episodes from last
03:16
year from the the run of
03:18
18 episodes that we had already done
03:20
some fantastic conversations with the
03:22
likes of
03:23
kathy hackl and dr sathya noble
03:26
and david ryan polgar and some other
03:28
really great
03:29
wonderful people who work in the in the
03:31
tech responsible tech and ai ethics and
03:33
you know kind of that
03:34
assorted space um i i hope you’ll
03:37
follow and check those out it’s there’s
03:39
a lot of really great discussions there
03:42
so again live show add your comments
03:45
just know that we won’t be able to get
03:46
to all of them in many cases so
03:48
uh we we so appreciate you being here
03:51
chatting with us and just participating
03:53
in general
03:54
one way or the other so now to introduce
03:57
our guest
03:58
uh which i’m really so excited to do
04:01
we’re chatting with art chang who is a
04:04
mayoral candidate for the city of new
04:05
york
04:06
uh he’s the son of korean immigrants and
04:08
the father of two boys
04:10
and he has spent the last 35 years
04:12
working as a professional problem solver
04:15
in new york city he’s built a dozen
04:17
startups in the city all
04:18
focused on using technology as a force
04:21
for good
04:22
he built case book the first web-based
04:24
software platform for child welfare
04:27
which is now the system of record in the
04:29
state of indiana so that’s cool
04:31
he just got he put queens west which is
04:33
the long island city waterfront
04:35
in the ground with climate change in
04:36
mind making it one of only two
04:38
developments
04:39
to in the city to not lose power during
04:42
hurricane sandy
04:43
so we’ll talk about that i think he also
04:45
co-created
04:46
new york city votes with the campaign
04:48
finance board to improve participation
04:50
in our local democracy
04:52
and has had the privilege to work at
04:53
some of new york city’s most important
04:55
institutions
04:56
such as cuny the brooklyn public library
04:59
the city law department and brooklyn
05:01
tech giving him the tools and knowledge
05:03
to make real solutions for the
05:04
challenges faced by the people of new
05:06
york city
05:07
so hit wwe
05:12
to learn more and of course if you want
05:14
to be part of the the movement to elect
05:17
art tang to as mayor of new york city
05:19
that is hashtag
05:20
team chang on all the major platforms so
05:23
keep getting those questions ready
05:25
uh for our outstanding guest and with
05:28
that please
05:29
help me welcome art chang art you are
05:32
live on the tech humanist show thank you
05:34
so much for being here
05:36
well thank you so much for having me
05:38
here i’m so delighted to see you it’s
05:40
wonderful to make that transition from
05:42
clubhouse to video you got
05:43
it exactly that’s an important point
05:46
that we need to clarify for
05:47
our watchers and listeners right now is
05:49
that we met
05:51
on clubhouse the audio the social audio
05:53
platform
05:54
that was great it was one of the best
05:56
uses of the platform that i feel like
05:58
i’ve had
05:58
uh are you still using it no actually no
06:01
i feel like it’s jumped the shark
06:03
i feel like i met you then who else do
06:05
they need to meet
06:06
yeah that’s that’s totally untrue
06:10
but yeah no i feel like there was a
06:11
moment because we were in that sort of
06:14
just before the vaccines set us free out
06:16
into the world again when social audio
06:18
had a really
06:19
big inflection point and then now i feel
06:22
like people are kind of like trying to
06:23
figure out what it’ll be
06:25
in this sort of post-vaccine reality
06:28
have you got any ideas about that
06:31
i don’t i don’t i mean there’s one
06:33
wonderful new yorker
06:34
you know cartoon which is you know these
06:37
two people hugging
06:38
yeah and someone was going like
06:41
how long can you hug i think i’ve been
06:44
putting that to the test lately
06:46
i feel like i’ve been grabbing my
06:48
friends and just clenching i’m holding
06:50
them tight i’m so glad to be out in the
06:52
real world again
06:53
hey you know it’s thinking about your
06:56
your
06:57
campaign for mayor of new york city
07:00
you seem like a very different kind of
07:02
mayor background-wise and
07:04
experience-wise from a lot of the other
07:06
at least the main contenders and and
07:08
certainly uh you know that
07:10
the tech and entrepreneurship and
07:12
working around communities and and
07:14
institutions that feels like it’s a
07:16
really
07:17
relevant kind of set of skills just very
07:20
different so
07:21
what made you decide to take those
07:23
skills and put them to use running for
07:24
mayor and potentially being the mayor of
07:26
new york city
07:28
well you know every every crisis is a
07:30
huge opportunity
07:31
and when coveted and the black lives
07:34
matter protests happened
07:35
you know i just look at i said man there
07:37
is so much in the city
07:39
that deserves a real transformation and
07:42
i could see the things that needed to be
07:43
transformed like namely everything
07:46
and you see also like how you could do
07:48
that
07:49
and i thought well this is a
07:51
transformational moment for new york in
07:53
new york city’s history
07:54
but what it’s going to need is a mayor
07:55
who has a really
07:58
kind of supreme set of experiences you
08:00
know city government state government
08:03
the key nonprofits the kind of the mind
08:06
of the
08:07
rational mind from business of finance
08:09
and technology
08:10
but also the creativity and the heart of
08:12
somebody from the arts
08:14
and i looked for a candidate to support
08:17
and i couldn’t find someone who fit that
08:19
description
08:20
and then i looked in the mirror and i
08:21
said well i have that
08:24
and maybe there’s somebody in the city
08:25
who’s better than i but
08:27
you know i’m gonna throw my hat in the
08:28
ring so november i filed and
08:30
in december i announced and and what’s
08:33
that process been like
08:34
just total chaos or what no it’s been
08:38
almost the opposite it’s been um you
08:40
know i spent nine years on the campaign
08:41
finance board so i know the process
08:44
you know pretty well um but
08:47
you know i think the the first thing was
08:50
you know that saying like like if it
08:53
when the tree
08:54
falls in a forest doesn’t make a sound
08:56
and i felt like i filed to run
08:58
and there was absolutely zero reaction
09:02
and people said you know god you have no
09:04
chance you’re not a household name
09:05
you’ve never run for office before and
09:08
i’m like well
09:08
i might look like an outsider but i
09:10
think of myself as very much of a policy
09:13
insider right because i’ve done so much
09:16
and you know to the extent that you know
09:17
in 2018 i helped form the strategy that
09:20
i’ll be part of develop developing the
09:21
strategy that led to the
09:23
throwing out the idc and getting a truly
09:25
progressive state legislature for the
09:27
first time in 25 years
09:29
and um so i’ve been in the in the
09:31
trenches i’ve just been behind the
09:33
scenes
09:34
and i’ve chosen to kind of make things
09:35
happen instead of
09:37
you know be part of the chatter
09:39
chattering class i would guess
09:40
in class that’s such a great expression
09:42
what about those uh
09:44
the dozen sort of tech for good startups
09:46
that you’d mention in your bio
09:48
what were some of those i know we talked
09:49
a little bit in the intro about case
09:51
book and the child welfare
09:53
system which i’d love to hear more about
09:54
but so some of the other uh sort of
09:56
unnamed dozen what what’s been the
09:58
sort of tenor or thrust of many of them
10:01
well almost all of them are formed
10:03
around a problem
10:04
and solving a problem and finding the
10:07
right
10:08
instantiation of something to address
10:11
that issue
10:12
and then having a very clear idea of
10:14
what success means and who the
10:16
stakeholders are and that who would
10:18
benefit from it and then working
10:19
backwards from it
10:20
so like for me i’ve always done that
10:23
without actually
10:24
thinking about up up front what is the
10:26
profit motive for it
10:28
i’m thinking of well what’s the solution
10:29
for it and then what’s the highest and
10:31
best
10:32
match for the structure of the entity
10:35
for the type of organization it is
10:37
whether it’s non-profit for-profit or
10:39
something else
10:40
and um and then how we measure success
10:42
and orient toward that success
10:45
and you know what’s different about the
10:46
way that i think is that um
10:48
you know i’ve never really been
10:50
motivated by money
10:52
um i’ve never been motivated by sort of
10:54
the rewards that venture capital
10:56
typically looks toward
10:57
i’ve been much more motivated by what
10:59
the benefit end users get
11:00
and sometimes some of the things that
11:02
i’ve worked on they run its course
11:04
and then the benefit is over and that’s
11:07
actually okay as well
11:09
yeah yeah um that makes sense and i like
11:13
the
11:14
i like that framing of you know knowing
11:16
exactly what the problem is and how like
11:17
how you’re going to measure it so
11:18
knowing what success looks like
11:20
that feels like i mean that’s a very
11:22
relevant framework for
11:24
city government in general or or you
11:26
know any kind of policy approach
11:28
and i don’t feel like that is
11:29
necessarily what the impression that i
11:31
get anyway of how
11:32
uh policy making or governance is often
11:35
approached
11:36
yes and i would say like the current
11:39
mayor is a great example of what happens
11:40
when you put someone who’s been a career
11:42
politician
11:43
into an executive role and i think part
11:46
of the part of the
11:47
disconnect in this race is that you know
11:50
all the tools that the press have and
11:52
and that we’re taught are really focused
11:55
on legislative
11:56
races and the mayor for a city the size
11:59
of new york and for smaller cities is
12:00
actually a very different role
12:02
it’s a chief executive role right i mean
12:04
the city
12:06
you know the city is actually if it were
12:08
a country it would be in the top 20
12:10
in the world in terms of gdp and its
12:13
budget is largest in all but four states
12:15
if we were a private corporation we’d be
12:17
in the top 30 of all
12:19
u.s corporations by the size of our
12:21
employee base and our budget
12:23
so this is a role that is really
12:26
managerial is problem solving the design
12:29
of the city government is super
12:31
important
12:32
and being able to match the kind of the
12:34
the the capabilities of the government
12:37
with the needs of the people of new york
12:39
is a very different problem than
12:41
figuring out
12:42
well what law am i going to pass and
12:44
then how do i
12:45
generate my reward from that you know
12:48
yeah and i think
12:49
you know one of the other things that
12:50
that strikes me about what you’re just
12:52
saying there
12:52
is the recognition that cities are kind
12:55
of
12:56
different animals from other
12:59
levels of in a sense of government other
13:02
ways of of thinking about a populist
13:04
and and so cities i think are very
13:06
special and there is this way in which
13:08
uh data and tech has kind of come around
13:12
cities in the last uh you know 10 15 20
13:15
years like we we’ve thought about
13:17
how we’re going to use data intact to
13:19
create better cities how we’re going to
13:21
make smarter cities and that whole smart
13:23
city movement feels like it’s been
13:24
through a lot of generations
13:26
in the time that in that time span for
13:29
example
13:30
but there is a sense that that um of
13:33
course so
13:34
one thing is that smart city discussion
13:35
has evolved a lot right we know that
13:37
people are talking a lot more about
13:39
personal privacy than we were talking
13:41
about in the early part of that smart
13:43
city discussion
13:44
but it feels like there’s still a lot of
13:45
opportunity to have a very
13:48
um integrated use of data and technology
13:51
in providing
13:52
for the citizens of you know the
13:54
residents and the visitors and and all
13:56
of the other
13:57
uh stakeholders in the city so what are
13:59
some of your thoughts about that what
14:00
are the missed opportunities what aren’t
14:01
what aren’t we talking about when it
14:03
comes to that
14:05
well let’s just start with universal
14:06
broadband you know
14:08
in 1994 you know you mentioned queens
14:11
west and my experience there
14:13
in 1994 we actually envisioned
14:16
it as a as a digital live work community
14:19
it was the first planned
14:21
community with the universal broadband
14:23
in the country
14:24
we had we had t1s going to every one of
14:27
the apartments in the first two
14:28
buildings and we built
14:30
the infrastructure to allow people to
14:32
work from home
14:33
remotely and we even had this crazy idea
14:36
that maybe one day students would be
14:38
connected to their university so they
14:40
could learn from home
14:42
and that was 1994 and you look at where
14:44
we are today
14:46
and the the interesting thing to me and
14:49
the tragic thing is that
14:51
all the other candidates are are still
14:54
have a mindset that is
14:56
locked in 1998 technology
14:59
right which is you know point-to-point
15:01
fixed line networks
15:03
they’re not thinking about mesh networks
15:04
they don’t have the language for
15:06
three-dimensional networks trying to
15:08
figure out you know more creatively how
15:10
we
15:10
sort of take the fixed line
15:12
infrastructure that we have and build
15:13
upon it
15:14
is something that that that nobody is
15:16
really talking about
15:17
so when people say well we have to have
15:18
universal broadband well how
15:20
are they going to do it if they don’t
15:22
understand what it actually means
15:24
and what the opportunities are and how
15:25
we leverage all the different players
15:27
right in that whole you know business
15:29
process to make that happen
15:31
yeah you know it seems like um there’s
15:33
been some conversation about
15:35
that relative to this mayoral race and
15:38
some of the other candidates and their
15:39
exposure
15:40
to that discussion but i think what’s
15:42
also interesting is to compare with
15:43
other cities like
15:44
the sidewalk labs uh sort of project in
15:48
toronto that got a lot
15:49
met with a lot of resistance from uh
15:52
residents
15:53
and had to be sort of reframed and
15:55
reapproached
15:56
um what do you think is going to be the
15:59
way that we can really tackle
16:01
um not just broadband but i mean some of
16:05
these things like the the
16:06
link nyc chaos kiosks for example
16:09
they seem like um they are
16:13
a kind of a great example of a bad
16:15
example
16:16
right they’re a great example
16:20
of something that was like a really
16:24
great powerpoint
16:25
yeah exactly exactly you know like
16:27
someone said oh look here’s this really
16:28
cool thing we provide these things
16:30
but like there’s no seating anywhere
16:32
near them
16:33
like you have to go and stand there’s
16:35
only those are only two usb ports i
16:37
think in some of them
16:38
like it’s like the use is so limited and
16:41
then what is what are they supposed to
16:42
connect to right there’s no
16:44
kind of repeater system for them to get
16:46
more range
16:47
so the whole idea was kind of you know
16:50
it’s a nice thing to experiment with you
16:52
can probably learn a lot from it
16:54
but it wasn’t thought about holistically
16:55
which you have to really do
16:58
going back to sidewalk labs and you know
17:00
what google has been trying to do
17:02
i’m a huge fan of their willingness to
17:04
experiment
17:05
you know and i think the toronto thing
17:07
for this from an outsider’s view
17:09
was really trying to bite off too much
17:11
at once and really trying to
17:13
take things a little bit too far for
17:16
people’s comfort it would be better to
17:18
take a more iterative approach
17:20
but in contrast i look at what
17:21
chattanooga has done right chattanooga
17:24
have now has the highest broadband in
17:27
the country
17:28
and that’s really fostered she’s been a
17:31
huge economic engine for that
17:33
for that small city you know and and you
17:35
look at what the return has been for
17:37
them
17:38
and we have to do the same thing here
17:39
because you know we already are in a
17:41
place where
17:42
we don’t have sufficient broadband even
17:45
for the tech startups in our city
17:47
and so unless we do this we’re really
17:49
going to hold back economic development
17:51
for everybody
17:52
yeah it’s interesting that you bring up
17:53
chattanooga because at the time that
17:55
chattanooga got started
17:56
in its partnership with google i was
17:58
living in nashville
18:00
and so you know closer proximity than
18:02
here
18:03
and uh it was it was definitely the
18:06
sense that the
18:07
the acceleration sort of started from
18:10
that point
18:10
and there was there was already this
18:12
kind of entrepreneurial community
18:14
in chattanooga just as there was a kind
18:16
of beginning to flourish entrepreneur
18:18
entrepreneurial community in nashville
18:20
but with that
18:21
with that broadband and with that the
18:24
partnership with google
18:25
into the entrepreneurial community it
18:27
feels like that really
18:29
helped it take off uh and and it helped
18:31
a lot of the neighboring cities
18:33
get their bearings relative to what was
18:35
what the priorities were there too
18:38
um so yeah i’m i’m bullish on that kind
18:41
of experimentation and you use
18:42
two words in your comments so far that
18:45
are favorites of mine one was holistic
18:47
taking a more holistic approach to how
18:49
those things are going to be thought out
18:51
and also iterative so yes
18:54
that holistic iterative approach feels
18:56
like it could go a long way for this
18:58
city so i’m glad you’re out there
18:59
championing that
19:02
uh i i wanted to pivot a little bit and
19:04
just
19:05
get into a little bit of fun area here
19:07
which is
19:08
about just technology in this kind of
19:11
general sense of how it affects our
19:14
lives
19:14
there’s this everybody knows i think the
19:16
the arthur z clark quote about
19:18
uh any sufficiently advanced technology
19:20
is indistinguishable from magic
19:22
such a great observation his third law
19:24
but i always tell this story about you
19:26
know there there being two times in
19:28
my life when i uh had that experience of
19:32
encountering technology and getting like
19:33
the little tingles on the back of my
19:35
neck and you know that excited feeling
19:36
and one was when i saw
19:38
the graphical web for the first time you
19:40
know and and not just you know the sort
19:41
of text-based
19:42
links browser but seeing mosaic and
19:45
seeing the embedded
19:46
graphics and uh you know for formatted
19:50
fonts and things like that
19:51
and my mind just went like this is going
19:54
to change
19:55
everything and of course it did
19:58
and then the second time was when i saw
20:00
augmented reality for the first time and
20:02
i got that same
20:03
tingles whatever like this is going to
20:05
change everything and of course
20:07
it really hasn’t yet but
20:10
i think that first of all they think
20:12
that it really really could but i just
20:13
want to ask you you know just for the
20:15
sake of
20:15
of having that connection with like what
20:17
technology has meant to you is there a
20:19
moment or have
20:20
there have been multiple moments in your
20:21
life when you also have just kind of
20:24
realized all at once the power and
20:26
potential of a particular kind of
20:27
technology and how it could change
20:29
the world oh well many they’ve had many
20:32
many moments um
20:34
because i’m old enough to have lived
20:35
through several generations of
20:37
technology development
20:38
so you know you know just just to place
20:41
myself in an
20:42
era i mean i graduated from college in
20:44
1985 without having had a computer i
20:46
actually typed my senior thesis on a
20:49
typewriter
20:50
um and uh you know i went to work in a
20:53
startup
20:53
that um used i was forced to use uh
20:56
dbase
20:58
as a database and so i was fascinated by
21:01
that and then we started to experiment
21:02
with relational databases
21:04
and that was like at the very advent of
21:06
that time so that was like 1987
21:08
88 and then um in 1990 when i went to
21:12
work at the city’s law department
21:14
they were they’re on an as300 system
21:17
right which was a terminal mainframe
21:19
system
21:19
and i was like it does my mind just went
21:22
and so i convinced my boss to buy a pc a
21:25
number of pcs and i actually
21:26
with my own hands i put together a mini
21:29
land
21:30
with the first relational database at
21:32
the city in the city’s law department in
21:34
1990
21:35
and that was phenomenal because the
21:37
transformation that we had
21:39
in terms of responsiveness and ease of
21:42
use and being able to address the user
21:44
needs um in these data queries was
21:47
absolutely tremendous
21:49
and then fast forward you know i mean oh
21:51
my god you know
21:52
hyper card yeah i saw hyper card and i
21:55
thought about oh my god
21:56
visual databases i’m like wow this is
21:58
insane
21:59
and then the ipod the first ipod
22:04
i went oh my god steve jobs is going to
22:07
make a phone
22:09
oh you saw that connection right away i
22:11
just saw it from the ipod to the iphone
22:13
because you saw what he did he he
22:15
created itunes
22:16
first to see if people would actually
22:19
you know you know rip their cds and they
22:22
did
22:23
and then they self-organized them and
22:25
they had all this way of doing this
22:26
and then you had the ipod and it just
22:29
exploded
22:30
and i’m like oh my god they’re going to
22:32
put a screen on this
22:33
and then it’s going to become a mini
22:35
computer and then it’s going to become a
22:37
phone
22:38
call oh my god this is going to change
22:42
everything yeah you know and then in
22:44
2000
22:45
then just kind of backtracked a little
22:46
bit in 2003 i had my first interaction
22:49
with open source software
22:51
and i there was a project i wanted to
22:53
build i was i had i was running a
22:55
debater
22:56
and you know i had fifty thousand
22:57
dollars in budget and i said
22:59
like what can i start for fifty thousand
23:01
bucks nothing
23:02
and then you know i was introduced to a
23:05
developer who was working with um
23:07
very very early my sequel the beta
23:10
version of my sequel
23:12
and a beta version of php and
23:15
we built a website for twenty thousand
23:18
dollars with a database and a whole
23:21
backend of the visual front end
23:23
and i just went oh my god this is
23:25
because you could see the
23:26
the the this acceleration that would
23:29
get what that would that that would
23:30
create um and then after that i just
23:33
went fully
23:34
fully in in um in open source
23:37
and then in oh my god like the next one
23:40
we got a great list this is fantastic
23:43
there’s so many things i mean uh oh my
23:46
god and then
23:47
then when um agile came out i you know i
23:49
saw agile
23:51
and around the same time and but then i
23:53
saw agile’s being like all over the
23:54
place i know there’s no discipline to it
23:56
and then i met rob me and pivotal labs
23:59
in 2007
24:01
and they introduced me to xp i was like
24:05
oh my god and so i became an xp in here
24:08
and like
24:08
this changes everything i went between
24:11
open source the cheapness of open source
24:13
and the reliability and error reduction
24:16
of
24:17
of xp we can build enterprise scale
24:21
things on a relative dime
24:24
um and come back iterative and holistic
24:26
there exactly
24:27
yeah exactly and then you know between
24:29
the user center design
24:30
product center design you know and
24:32
looking at how we
24:34
take that whole mindset and apply that
24:36
to
24:37
even legacy technologies was was was
24:40
astonishing
24:41
and then finally you know i had the
24:43
privilege of with pivotal you know how
24:44
pivotal grow i incubated them here in
24:46
new york i
24:47
i persuaded a silicon valley company to
24:50
move to new york
24:51
and um became the engine of their growth
24:54
but then i went to work for them
24:55
and they had just taken cloud foundry
24:59
and now had this very thin layer
25:02
right this very thin horizontal layer
25:05
that was able to
25:06
self heal that was able to you know
25:08
connect
25:09
microservices at the front end of the
25:11
back end right in a very seamless
25:14
way it was truly like kind of again a
25:16
revolutionary
25:18
um uh development in the way that we
25:21
think about our systems
25:22
so it’s that kind of system thinking
25:24
that i think like we can take that we
25:26
can abstract that away from technology
25:28
and look at
25:29
how we can apply systems thinking to the
25:31
rest of what we do and then using
25:33
technology to enhance and make
25:37
other things more efficient and
25:38
effective and scalable and reliable
25:41
and more user-centered and friendly like
25:43
that to me is like the like the holy
25:45
grail of all this
25:46
of all the generations of technology
25:48
that i’ve had the front up you know the
25:50
privilege of being on the front row seat
25:51
of
25:52
that’s fantastic first of all what a
25:54
great like historical tour of the last
25:56
few decades
25:57
of uh amazing tech innovations and
26:00
and then for you to put it in context
26:01
like that i think is is 100
26:03
right that that reminds me of the thing
26:06
that’s been kind of at the
26:07
the front of my mind throughout this
26:09
pandemic has been
26:11
this realization you know i’ve spent
26:12
i’ve spent decades talking about the
26:14
idea that analytics are people
26:16
data is people and then it kind of
26:18
occurred to me
26:20
lately in about the last year and a half
26:22
that the economy is people
26:24
too that when we talk about things like
26:27
how we’re going to reopen businesses and
26:29
and how we’re going to you know uh take
26:31
different kinds of chances with public
26:33
health
26:33
because of the economy i’m like but the
26:36
economy is
26:37
people and you so we have to break in
26:39
that very holistic way there too and
26:41
that as you say the very systems
26:43
thinking kind of way
26:44
about you know it’s got to be about
26:46
people and their ability to
26:48
uh contribute and and you know you know
26:51
be a functioning part of this
26:52
of the economy in a maker in value
26:55
contributive sense but also in a healthy
26:57
sense also in a protected sense and that
26:59
that part seems super super important so
27:02
i think that only
27:03
comes from that systems perspective and
27:05
you can i think abstract that out to so
27:07
many other other layers
27:08
so i’m glad you’re excited to hear you
27:10
say that thanks and you know
27:12
you ready such a one critical point
27:13
which i think is so important
27:15
is that one of the things that um i
27:18
think the growth of conservative
27:19
thinking
27:20
has really done over the past 60 years
27:24
is that it has convinced us that
27:26
everything is based upon dollars and
27:28
cents
27:29
and it’s actually based on people and
27:31
our human interactions
27:33
and the dollar and cents are just a way
27:36
one of the different way
27:37
aspects in which that makes sense and so
27:39
people often like
27:40
talk about the arts in the first place
27:42
even i do this like we talk about how
27:43
important the arts are to the eu
27:45
to this city economy 100 billion dollars
27:47
of
27:48
value-add but actually that all starts
27:51
with artists
27:52
right and the arts workers and this sort
27:54
of human desire to create things
27:57
you know and invent things and express
27:59
oneself
28:00
that that then is that’s really where
28:03
the value is and the fact that it’s
28:04
related to dollars and cents
28:06
is a secondary benefit from that yeah
28:09
100
28:10
totally agree that actually feels like
28:12
it’s an interesting segue into thinking
28:14
about like the nyc votes
28:16
work that you did and thinking about how
28:18
to provide
28:19
um kind of structural infrastructural
28:23
kinds of resources that have to do with
28:25
voting and citizenship that are data
28:27
based and tech led
28:29
you know talk us through a little bit
28:30
about you know how that came to be and
28:32
what that initiative really was and what
28:34
what that has taught you
28:35
yeah absolutely thank you so i think
28:39
it gives us an opportunity to talk about
28:40
two intersectional things
28:42
uh one is that um the campaign finance
28:45
board was created to try to
28:48
minimize the power of big money and dark
28:51
money in new york city politics
28:53
and it is part and it’s actually
28:55
requested it’s created
28:58
um in the city charter which is the
29:00
city’s constitution
29:02
and the city charter is an important
29:04
piece and what you see is my primary
29:06
plans it actually kind of weaves its way
29:08
through
29:09
because it’s it really is a living
29:11
document that is so important
29:14
but the effort was really saying well if
29:16
we
29:17
offer excuse me
29:20
if we provide matching funds for
29:22
candidates
29:23
that they’ll be able to run with less
29:25
money less focusing on raising money and
29:27
more
29:28
focus on the constituents and so there
29:30
are
29:31
a couple other pieces i mean there are
29:33
some two other important mandates
29:34
one to mandate was you know how do we
29:36
actually create
29:38
um sort of growing voter engagement
29:40
because there’s been an alarm that over
29:42
the decades
29:43
voter participation has declined right
29:46
so it’s like 12
29:47
13 in the last mayoral election or i
29:49
think eight percent maybe the last one
29:51
but
29:51
it’s only been one percent so far in
29:53
this early election season
29:54
yes exactly um
29:59
yeah take that take that water i was
30:01
gonna say like this is that moment where
30:02
i feel like i should say can i get you a
30:04
water but
30:05
obviously that is uh not something that
30:07
we’re technologically set up to be able
30:09
to do yet
30:10
yeah but you did so you did that that
30:12
that magic mind trick of actually just
30:14
telling me
30:15
um but um we um you know the
30:18
the other thing was that the candidates
30:21
for off office
30:22
are supposed to be easier for candidates
30:24
to run but
30:25
you know it’s government and where
30:27
government is giving people the vote the
30:29
you know the voters money or
30:30
our taxpayers money and so there’s this
30:33
higher level of scrutiny
30:35
and so the regulatory burden is very
30:37
heavy and it was
30:38
getting increasingly heavy so when i
30:41
joined the campaign finance board in
30:42
2009 and i was the first and only asian
30:45
appointed to the board
30:47
you know we didn’t have an online voter
30:49
guide all right so you want to talk
30:50
about
30:51
increasing voter engagement well you
30:53
know 2009
30:54
and no online voter guide that’s
30:56
ridiculous the second thing was that
30:58
the um the bureaucracy was so cumbersome
31:03
that it was actually creating a bad name
31:05
for campaign finance
31:07
that campaign finance was being equated
31:10
with the city’s campaign finance system
31:12
it’s overbearing regulations and was
31:14
really causing damage to the entire
31:15
reputation of the idea itself
31:18
so i you know i said we can’t allow this
31:20
to happen
31:21
and you know we have a fantastic team at
31:25
the campaign finance board
31:26
and you know amy lopez of course we
31:29
can’t have this happen
31:30
but we don’t have the know-how and we
31:31
don’t have the resources to do this
31:33
so i said well you know what if you’re
31:34
willing to go down the journey with me
31:37
we’re going to solve these problems and
31:39
so i
31:40
pulled together a private private sector
31:42
group
31:43
who is willing to contribute or work for
31:46
free my firm
31:46
which is then tipping point partners um
31:49
an interaction design firm called method
31:51
and pivotal in pivotal labs and we said
31:54
we’re going to solve this problem
31:55
starting with the users
31:56
and so over about a year we worked very
31:59
closely with the campaign finance boards
32:01
team
32:02
and with the end goal of being able to
32:04
provide a seamless
32:05
engagement for voters for for voter
32:08
information
32:09
but also provide a seamless comp
32:12
compliance and violation free process
32:14
for credit card contributions for
32:16
candidates
32:17
and that was the end goal like no
32:19
violations no audit doesn’t take that
32:22
friction away and we did that
32:25
and we created this we created this we
32:27
gifted it to the city
32:29
and we did it in a way where the city
32:30
could keep running forward with it
32:33
that they had the ability they had the
32:35
knowledge the training
32:36
and then the hooks to be able to bring
32:38
in outside vendors to further the
32:40
the development of it yeah that’s
32:43
amazing i i like
32:44
you um you said sort of a key phrase
32:46
there that i thought was really
32:48
key really important was uh with the
32:50
users
32:51
you know starting with the users in mind
32:53
and that that feels like
32:55
again that you can abstract that to a
32:57
lot of other topics that are relevant to
33:00
governing at a city level that thinking
33:02
about
33:03
how you’re going to involve communities
33:05
and make sure that the people who are
33:07
going to be most affected are part
33:08
of the design process and part of
33:10
thinking about the solution i mean that
33:12
seems like it’s a a really important
33:14
take away from this
33:16
all right well it’s how we’re going to
33:17
be able to address every community
33:19
right because we think you know there
33:20
are language communities disability
33:22
communities
33:24
who can’t really interact with the city
33:26
government online
33:28
and or even in person and so we can
33:30
actually help address a lot of those
33:32
things by working backwards from the
33:34
people
33:34
and and the needs to you know is a
33:37
technology system that has all that
33:39
information and has some of the
33:41
beginning translation functions
33:43
yeah that’s awesome it’s very cool i i
33:46
love that kind of
33:47
that kind of project that sort of
33:48
solution that that’s looking at
33:50
uh like you said holistic right you’re
33:52
looking at all these different kind of
33:54
parts and pieces that can be connected
33:55
and can be bettered by
33:57
uh by that kind of integrative approach
34:00
uh
34:00
that’s fantastic speaking of that though
34:02
it feels like
34:03
kind of a little bit of it again and and
34:05
talking about
34:07
another integrative approach in your
34:09
background
34:10
right in your bio it talks about this
34:11
queen’s west development and how
34:14
you know having been built with climate
34:15
change in mind it was able to
34:17
keep power one of only two buildings you
34:19
said
34:20
in the city uh during hurricane sandy
34:23
what um talk us through a little bit
34:25
about the history of like how did you
34:27
get involved in in that
34:28
process and that development and uh what
34:31
why was that a priority for you
34:32
and and what do you think what have you
34:34
learned from it
34:36
well i’m a kid who grew up in the arab
34:38
oil embargo
34:40
right and um when you for those people
34:43
who are
34:44
who who may not know the history um the
34:47
um you know the you know the arabs
34:50
at that time controlled the world’s
34:52
greatest supply of oil
34:54
um decided to raise the prices and they
34:57
as a result you know embargo um oil
35:00
deliveries to the us which caused great
35:02
shortages as a way to punish the us and
35:04
so there were huge
35:05
huge lines um at gas pumps people were
35:09
running out of gasoline it was a
35:10
national crisis
35:12
um it actually resulted in there were a
35:13
number of good things that came out of
35:15
it people
35:16
started questioning whether we needed
35:18
gas guzzling cars
35:20
whether we needed to think about fuel
35:21
efficiency whether we need to reduce the
35:23
size of our cars
35:24
we started thinking about recycling and
35:27
even composting
35:29
and this is back in the late 70s and i
35:32
can never i can i’ll never forget
35:33
actually doing competitions in my school
35:36
to see who could bring in the most
35:38
you know packages of of tied up
35:41
newspapers to the school
35:43
you know you know um a recycling
35:46
collection
35:46
um and uh you know so fast forward um
35:49
when i was working in the city
35:51
by the way i was just looking for this i
35:53
just got this book panic at the pump
35:55
the energy crisis and the transformation
35:56
of american politics in the 1970s by meg
35:59
jacobs
36:00
so have just been actually reading about
36:02
this very topic so
36:03
uh thank you for that real life
36:06
experience that could
36:07
connectualize it yeah and
36:10
thank you and um you know and when i was
36:12
working for the city
36:14
in the law department um we were we were
36:17
there’s a lawsuit against us against all
36:19
the all the asbestos manufacturers for
36:21
the cost of removing and replacing that
36:22
asbestos
36:23
so i got very familiar with all the
36:25
different players around the city
36:27
and who controlled the building
36:28
infrastructure for the city
36:31
and you know i always wanted to work on
36:33
a big development
36:35
and there were rumors that the queen’s
36:37
bus was was going to was going to come
36:39
up
36:39
and so i started pinging the various
36:41
people who i had known like saying do
36:43
you know anything about this
36:44
and um then there was finally you know
36:47
an executive
36:48
appointed uh rosina abramson and and
36:52
this is really the truly probably the
36:54
greatest breakthrough in my entire
36:56
career was having her hire me
37:00
as the first director of project
37:02
management for this project
37:04
because she was visionary i mean she
37:06
adopted this idea that
37:08
we were going to have a universal
37:09
broadband that there was a future a
37:11
digital future for
37:12
for for new york but also being open to
37:16
this idea that that
37:17
seas were rising that global
37:20
temperatures were probably going up
37:22
that we’re going to have more violent
37:24
storms that things like the hundred year
37:27
flood line
37:28
might not be drawn to anticipate future
37:31
the future of these rising seas and
37:33
storms
37:34
and and this is also done in the context
37:36
of other forward-thinking people
37:38
throughout the state government
37:39
and city government and so we planned
37:42
for 150-year storm
37:44
and deliberately and consciously and we
37:47
made and did a number of things that
37:49
really
37:50
allowed the um allowed the the project
37:53
not to be overrun by the rising waters
37:56
um so it was really you know battery
37:57
park city and queens west which did that
38:00
um we softened the edge of the water
38:03
which so i like when you look at the
38:04
whole
38:05
waterfront resiliency plan for new york
38:06
city that we have to soften the edges
38:08
because it creates such an absorptive
38:10
buffer to rising season storms
38:13
we created trenches that are mostly
38:16
hidden
38:16
so that overflow water had a place to go
38:19
we surrounded
38:20
the the foundations of the buildings
38:23
with
38:24
what we call bathtubs which are concrete
38:27
enclosures that would
38:28
again prevent water from from going into
38:31
these these places where so much of the
38:32
infrastructure of these buildings were
38:34
and then we located as much of the of
38:37
the mechanicals on top of the buildings
38:40
so that they would be protected from any
38:42
any water
38:43
um and so there’s like a number of other
38:45
things that we did but those are some of
38:46
the most
38:47
major things um and like all
38:50
technologies whether they’re manifested
38:52
in physical form or in digital form
38:55
right they’re all interconnected and
38:58
when you look at they’re all systems
38:59
and so again going back to this holistic
39:01
approach when you look at that
39:04
and you look at what success means and
39:06
you work backwards
39:07
from definition of success of the users
39:10
it’s really amazing
39:11
i’ll just end with one final one one
39:13
amazing story
39:14
is that um a couple years ago i was
39:17
having dinner with uh with another with
39:19
another couple
39:20
my wife and i and i asked him where he
39:22
lived and he said well
39:23
you know live and uh explain where he
39:26
lived and turns out he lives in the
39:27
first
39:27
building we built and i said you know
39:30
i was i was the first project manager on
39:33
that project
39:35
he said no way he stood up
39:38
and he gave me a hug he said
39:41
thank you thank you and you want to talk
39:44
about user satisfaction oh my god
39:47
like it was extraordinary yeah and then
39:50
there is one other person by the way i
39:52
need to mention on this project that was
39:53
also
39:54
pivotal for me i met herb sters who sam
39:57
roberts has called the father of social
40:00
entrepreneurship he was helping
40:03
on the on the private sector side of
40:05
that development project and so
40:06
he’s also led to a number of other great
40:08
things bringing systems thinking it’s a
40:10
social
40:11
services innovation um so it was really
40:14
an amazing experience for me and
40:16
i’m forever grateful to rosina for
40:18
hiring me yeah i mean that’s a fantastic
40:20
story and i love the
40:21
the capstone of getting the hug as
40:24
the measure of user satisfaction you’re
40:27
right
40:28
no better way to know that you had an
40:29
impact than that
40:31
uh and you also i think you you made a
40:34
statement that’s going to be
40:36
your pull quote from from this interview
40:38
which is you know about how
40:40
all technology whether it’s physical or
40:42
digital uh is
40:44
systems right it’s it’s systems in
40:45
nature and that
40:47
that of course really speaks to me as
40:49
you know one of my previous books is
40:50
pixels in place and
40:52
so much about that interconnected
40:54
digital and physical experience and that
40:56
it’s connected through the human
40:57
experience like that physical and
40:58
digital technology
41:00
is connected through through what we
41:03
experience
41:03
in the world and i think that is such an
41:06
overlooked point so often and i’m so i’m
41:10
so glad to hear you mention that in the
41:12
context specifically of thinking about
41:15
the built environment and about you know
41:17
a built environment that specifically
41:19
was uh was built with this kind of
41:21
resiliency in mind that’s a
41:23
fantastic kind of learning that’s that’s
41:25
uh
41:26
that’s integrative and holistic and
41:29
systemic
41:29
in nature um which another pivot point
41:33
for you though you mentioned
41:35
uh herb stirs was was the name and and
41:38
the social services and that seems like
41:40
it’s a really great opportunity to bring
41:41
up case book and the work that you
41:44
uh did with that so how did that come to
41:46
be how did you kind of
41:48
come up with the idea or or get to work
41:50
on that project
41:52
well casebook i think like
41:55
can we get a sec yeah go for that water
41:57
i’m gonna go for my
41:58
matcha here
42:02
in my fancy tachuminous mud i love the
42:05
mug
42:06
so you know we all know that there’s no
42:10
innovation that is created in isolation
42:13
right it’s created in a
42:16
kind of in amelia in a in a in a in a
42:19
context of other people having similar
42:21
ideas
42:23
and in some ways that competition kind
42:24
of pushing people toward
42:26
trying to actually be the first to make
42:28
it happen
42:30
and um you know i i you know i grew up
42:33
in a domestic violence household
42:35
i’m very intimately involved with that
42:38
herb recommended me for the board of
42:41
what was called then called victim
42:43
services which she helped start which is
42:45
now called safe horizon
42:47
and uh i was on that board for eight
42:49
years which focus was the largest um
42:52
still is the largest non-profit focused
42:54
on
42:55
domestic violence and child welfare and
42:58
child abuse
43:00
and then um you know so i came to this
43:02
with a fair amount of knowledge and then
43:04
plus my tech
43:05
knowledge and um one day
43:08
i was introduced to the vice president
43:11
for innovation for the annie e casey
43:14
foundation
43:14
kathleen feely another remarkable person
43:18
and kathleen had been on a tour of all
43:20
of these
43:21
you know established tech players trying
43:24
to pitch this idea she had he said
43:26
i’ve been looking at the social
43:28
interaction model in case book
43:30
and facebook and facebook and i was
43:32
wondering
43:33
how can we use that for the benefit of
43:35
child welfare caseworkers
43:38
and the children that they’re seeking to
43:40
serve
43:41
and you know because you know that like
43:42
when you’re on facebook everybody has
43:44
the permission to see certain things
43:46
people have permissions to cut to to
43:48
comment that you see things in real time
43:51
you get
43:51
notifications for your comments other
43:53
things and
43:54
so she she went through this and i was
43:57
sitting there just beaming and after she
44:00
was done i said
44:02
i’ve had the same idea
44:03
[Laughter]
44:07
and this was in 2007 and that
44:10
led to a number of things that led to
44:12
trying to find you know a
44:14
a develop software development firm who
44:17
i thought i could partner with
44:18
effectively
44:19
so i found pivotal labs on the west
44:21
coast and and they and
44:22
convinced them to move open up their
44:24
second office in new york city and they
44:26
became
44:26
our tech partner for that we came up
44:29
with a strategy that went from
44:31
you know a visual prototype a working
44:33
prototype
44:34
that we built in ruby on rails and then
44:36
um we turned to turn it into
44:39
you know a a v1 that actually community
44:43
solutions used um to solve homelessness
44:46
in brownsville
44:47
and um case and the casey foundation’s
44:50
um
44:51
uh foster care agency used
44:54
and then we pitched it to the state of
44:56
indiana and they
44:58
embraced it and we pushed it all the way
45:00
up to
45:01
governor mitch daniels and you know i
45:03
led a lot of the negotiations
45:05
and the pitch and um
45:09
you know daniel said oh my we have to
45:12
have this
45:13
that this is a truly important thing
45:16
and because of him we were able to
45:20
get exemptions to the state’s rules
45:22
about
45:23
using web-based software about using
45:25
open things that were built on open
45:27
source
45:28
to think about a different financing
45:30
model and a payment model for
45:32
this and um and then we went out and we
45:35
we built it
45:36
we built a system for 40 million dollars
45:39
with about 40 people that we took to
45:42
production in 18 months
45:45
the previous system in indiana cost over
45:47
150 million dollars
45:50
right it took five years to build and
45:52
they weren’t done
45:54
and it took a case worker six
45:57
months to learn the system we it
46:00
takes a case worker 20 minutes to learn
46:03
our system
46:05
and it’s integrated with all the
46:06
different state agencies
46:08
automates you know federal state
46:09
reporting there’s a data warehouse for
46:11
real-time analytics
46:13
and again we built it we launched it on
46:16
time on budget without a minute of
46:18
downtime after that
46:20
and that’s what we can do in our city in
46:22
in our government
46:24
with with the right process of the right
46:25
people in place
46:27
to ensure that we get these outcomes um
46:30
so it’s like yeah that was really one of
46:32
the great experiences in my
46:33
another great experience in my career
46:35
and i was so privileged to have it gives
46:36
me confidence that we can do that right
46:38
here in new york city
46:39
yeah i i believe that too and i think it
46:41
is
46:42
it is exciting to think about that those
46:44
systems-oriented
46:46
mindsets and what they could tackle you
46:48
know what kind of
46:49
um problems that not only could
46:52
technology solve but just sort of
46:54
systems thinking in general right but
46:56
but i think there’s a lot of room for
46:57
technology i think about
46:59
um you know in my in my work and in my
47:03
speaking i talk a lot about the
47:05
united nations sustainable development
47:07
goals and how
47:08
those 17 goals are such an obvious
47:11
roadmap for
47:12
work to align with them so for
47:14
businesses to figure out how they can
47:16
align
47:16
the work that they’re doing with at
47:18
least one of those goals and how
47:19
technology can be used to amplify those
47:22
goals i think that there’s a tremendous
47:24
amount of opportunity there and so i
47:25
guess i just wanted to ask you when you
47:27
when you think about
47:28
um the world as it is and the ways that
47:31
technology
47:32
that has yet to be developed could still
47:34
improve human life
47:36
is there kind of um a list that comes to
47:39
mind you had such a ready list of all of
47:41
these
47:42
uh great moments in your past that can
47:44
you sort of
47:45
envision to the future of like the
47:46
moments that you hope that you’ll
47:48
you’ll experience or you know even be
47:50
able to help lead what
47:52
what are some of the things that you
47:52
could see happening that could improve
47:54
human life with technology
47:56
well there are things large and small
48:00
um now let me and i think it’s super
48:02
important to think
48:03
in those terms because the large things
48:05
take some time
48:06
yeah and so it’s they’re more visionary
48:09
and then the small things are things
48:10
that you can deliver more quickly
48:12
and so when we talk about things the
48:13
strategies that that
48:15
that’s what a strategy is right you have
48:17
near-term deliverables against the
48:18
longer term vision
48:20
um and so i think that kind of thinking
48:21
is super super important i mean
48:23
the city is replete with things that
48:25
don’t work right look at the covet
48:27
vaccination issue
48:29
right like there wasn’t an existing
48:31
technology why not
48:32
why shouldn’t there be right there is a
48:35
there’s a fire
48:36
in in queens and jackson heights queens
48:38
where 240 families
48:40
you know lost their homes and most of
48:43
the families don’t have
48:44
any any any identification so they can’t
48:47
even
48:48
be placed in shelters and so you look at
48:50
these things and go like okay well we
48:52
have a system to be able to
48:53
automatically generate an identification
48:55
based on based on some
48:57
some other verifying information we
49:00
should have a way to be able to
49:02
certify that people lives in a
49:04
particular place and that they deserve
49:06
housing
49:06
and then we should have a system that
49:08
matches them to the housing that is
49:09
available and that exists
49:11
and you know part of this is
49:13
infrastructure like there is no
49:14
not a single emergency shelter for
49:16
families and queens
49:18
like how can that be and so you know
49:21
something as simple as like the id
49:23
can spawn a spiral into these other
49:25
different areas of interconnection
49:27
that are again another opportunity um
49:30
you know things like uh
49:31
pre-k four the interface for using that
49:34
is so
49:34
so challenging you know the city system
49:37
for
49:38
finding a school for your kid is so
49:41
challenging that a non-profit had to
49:43
create their own system
49:44
you know inside schools was created to
49:46
do that you know the city used to have a
49:48
principal training program
49:50
and then they had to spin it out because
49:52
they couldn’t get support from this
49:53
administration
49:55
right there are so many things kind of
49:57
small things that we can start to kind
49:58
of make
49:59
to immediately make immediate
50:00
improvements but some of the high
50:02
priority things to me are building on
50:04
data that we already have
50:06
we already collect you know income taxes
50:10
from everybody in the city you know over
50:12
60 percent of
50:13
undocumented immigrants even pay you
50:15
know income taxes
50:17
so if you pay income taxes well we know
50:19
what your income is
50:21
so why don’t we automatically entitle
50:24
you for benefits
50:26
instead of making you go from office to
50:28
office
50:29
and apply for them and each one of those
50:31
applications is cumbersome and
50:33
mind-numbing and mostly manual
50:35
right and you have to deal with a person
50:36
why isn’t it all online and seeing or it
50:38
seems that why does it automatically get
50:40
done for you
50:41
so those are kind of some bigger picture
50:43
things i think of having
50:45
you know a 3-1-1 system that really
50:47
operates as a customer service system
50:50
so you send in something you get you get
50:52
a response back you send something else
50:54
and you start having a conversation with
50:56
the system with that maybe a human at
50:58
the other end that you can
50:59
actually interact with on chat or on the
51:01
phone and by the way it’s done in the
51:03
language that’s appropriate to you and
51:05
that you pre-select
51:06
why don’t we have an online directory
51:08
where you can find the people you need
51:10
to find inside a government
51:11
and by the way citizens can’t find
51:14
people inside the government
51:15
but neither can government employees so
51:18
why don’t we have a knowledge management
51:19
system
51:20
to replace this this green book that’s
51:23
so archaic this paper-based book about
51:25
all the government employees
51:27
it doesn’t make any sense in this day
51:29
and age you know
51:30
why does the city website work with the
51:33
efficiency of google
51:35
so there’s so many things that could be
51:37
done right off the bat
51:38
and those are things that we need to
51:40
kind of transition the city toward more
51:42
more of a customer friendly
51:43
user-friendly
51:45
place because that’s how we’re going to
51:47
restore confidence in government
51:49
and how we’re going to restore
51:50
confidence and democracy
51:52
and it’s going to help i think bridge a
51:54
lot of the
51:55
partisan gaps that we’re having you know
51:57
even within our own city
51:59
i love that and it also feels like it
52:01
sounds like job creating
52:03
to me it sounds like those are kinds of
52:04
things you know the conversation that i
52:06
have a lot with companies
52:07
in this day and age is around the future
52:10
of work and the future of human jobs and
52:13
the rise of intelligent automation and
52:14
one of the ideas you just suggested
52:17
around the 3-1-1 customer service
52:19
orientation and kind of thinking around
52:21
chat
52:21
there’s obviously an advantage to being
52:24
able to kind of insert some
52:25
conversational ai
52:26
into that that process to be efficient
52:29
at scale
52:30
but also it takes human workers to train
52:33
that those
52:34
uh conversational ai those chat bots it
52:36
takes human workers to be able to
52:38
monitor
52:39
those conversations and make sure that
52:40
the nuance isn’t lost that we’re
52:42
continually having meaningful
52:44
interactions with people
52:46
and that the meaning is there in that
52:48
process and that we’re moving that
52:49
further
52:50
down the efficiency line so i think i i
52:53
get excited when i think about
52:55
you know those kinds of integrative
52:56
approaches that can use the best of what
52:58
technology is and solve for human
53:01
problems but you got to start
53:02
with the human problem right you got to
53:04
start from where the people
53:05
are and i like it and then on the notion
53:08
of efficiency
53:09
like i i just said very plainly that
53:12
efficiency leads
53:13
in my experience officials efficiency
53:15
leads to progressive outcomes
53:17
that is outcomes that really remedy um
53:20
structural inequities and aim towards
53:23
restorative justice
53:25
and i think when we look at the andrew
53:28
yang vision of the world
53:29
you know where ai is actually going to
53:31
take away everybody’s jobs
53:33
when in the context of new york city
53:35
government making it more efficient
53:37
means that we can reorient
53:39
our resources toward putting more humans
53:41
on the front lines
53:43
because that’s where we’re lacking right
53:45
there are so many functions that a human
53:47
cannot replace
53:48
right things like education things like
53:51
mental health
53:52
and counseling and social supports
53:56
yeah 100 hey you know as we get close to
53:59
our
54:00
our uh the end of our time together
54:01
which i’m so sad that
54:03
i always people say like an hour seems
54:05
like a long a long program but i’m like
54:07
you’d be surprised because
54:08
it feels like in order to have this
54:09
conversation that’s really deep and rich
54:11
you can cover a lot of ground uh in that
54:13
time so
54:14
i’m very excited that we’ve had this
54:16
time together and i want to
54:18
ask you this kind of wrap up closing
54:20
question
54:21
that is i’ll be honest it’s because i
54:24
am thinking this way with my own work
54:26
i’ve moved toward
54:27
um the the book that i have coming uh
54:30
this is
54:30
a little secret aside to all of our
54:33
watchers and
54:34
and listeners as well the book i have
54:36
coming out in september is called a
54:37
future so bright
54:39
and it is about this notion of strategic
54:41
optimism
54:42
the idea that we can tackle any problem
54:44
that we have in front of us
54:46
with an optimistic mindset as long as
54:48
we’re also strategic about how we deploy
54:50
that optimism
54:51
and i i get that sense from you art
54:54
chang
54:54
that you probably uh live with this very
54:57
strategic optimism
54:58
about the way that you go about problem
55:00
solving and seeing the world and so i
55:02
want to ask you
55:04
how what gives you hope for humanity
55:07
what do you look at and take hope from
55:10
and how do what what gives you the best
55:12
sense of that
55:13
of optimism balanced with strategy when
55:16
you think about the future
55:19
you know everything gives me hope and
55:21
optimism
55:22
but coupled with fear and i’ll talk
55:24
about fear in a second because it’s so
55:26
important to talk about that
55:28
um i love people
55:31
who are on the front lines of the work
55:35
whether it’s a bus supervisor
55:38
or a carpenter
55:41
because they actually have so much
55:43
knowledge
55:44
and if they’ve been doing it for a while
55:46
they they really care a
55:48
lot and they love that question that i
55:51
love asking them which is
55:52
if you could change one thing about your
55:54
work what would that be
55:57
and inevitably it relates to something
55:59
that technology can help with
56:01
whether it’s a supply problem or whether
56:03
it’s a scheduling problem
56:06
so that’s one thing the other thing
56:07
which is probably more important is
56:10
is really the younger generations
56:14
millennials and gen z fill me
56:18
with boundless hope for the future
56:21
because they care so much they recognize
56:23
that the world that they’re being given
56:26
is not ideal and that they’re going to
56:28
have to fix it
56:29
and so many of the things that have to
56:31
get fixed especially climate
56:33
are not gonna get solved in the next two
56:35
four eight
56:36
ten years right they’re gonna spend
56:38
their whole lives working on it
56:40
but they see the existentialist you know
56:43
counter
56:44
you know result if they do nothing
56:47
right which is that seas are rising by
56:49
10 feet so what do we do about that
56:51
the temperatures are increasing what are
56:52
we going to do about that we’re going to
56:53
have climate refugees in our own country
56:55
but also climate refugees from around
56:57
the world
56:58
who are going to be seeking you know a
56:59
place to come here in this country
57:01
and so you know the negative side and
57:03
the dark side for me
57:05
is if we do nothing what i
57:08
fear is that we are going to you know
57:10
we’re going to have an optimistic person
57:12
we’re going to have an economic recovery
57:14
but if we don’t lift all boats if we
57:17
don’t address the inequities that we
57:19
have
57:20
and then it’s going to be a very brutal
57:22
recovery
57:23
and we’re not going to leave the world a
57:25
much worse place and much more difficult
57:27
to recover from
57:28
for these younger generations and i feel
57:30
like it’s
57:31
it’s our duty it’s my duty to make to
57:34
solve this
57:35
problem and to put the city on its best
57:38
foot to make it the best place for the
57:41
next mayor to go and build upon
57:43
and leave that legacy for really for the
57:46
next generation
57:47
so that’s i guess that’s it in a
57:49
nutshell
57:51
and so there is this kind of yin and
57:52
yang between the optimism
57:54
and the fear of of you know
57:57
bad outcomes yeah yeah and that’s fair i
58:00
mean
58:01
it part of the strategic optimism model
58:03
as i put it forth
58:05
is you start with acknowledging the full
58:06
reality of the situation
58:08
and you have to and i feel like you want
58:10
to leave nothing
58:11
uh unacknowledged you don’t want that to
58:13
ignore the real risks and
58:15
and real world harms that can come to
58:17
people especially those who are already
58:19
marginalized
58:21
as you’re beginning to think about
58:22
solutions but at the same time
58:24
we want to make sure we embrace those
58:26
good solutions we want to make sure
58:27
that we’re leaning heavily in the
58:29
direction of the problems we can solve
58:31
and i feel
58:32
very confident in saying that that is a
58:35
mindset that you
58:36
seem to share it’s like you’re all about
58:39
the solutions to these problems and it’s
58:40
really charming and endearing and i’m so
58:43
glad that we’ve been able to move this
58:44
conversation off of clubhouse
58:47
and on to uh this live streaming
58:49
platform
58:51
this quasi face to face although now we
58:53
could actually get together and have a
58:55
cup of coffee in person which i’m
58:56
very much looking forward to doing once
58:59
uh once we’ve gotten through this
59:01
election cycle i suppose absolutely
59:04
well hopefully hopefully it will be a
59:05
glass of bubbling yeah i hope so too
59:08
uh so i already said it in the intro but
59:10
how can people find you and follow
59:12
your work and your campaign online um
59:15
go to www.chang.net
59:19
at least until primary day i have zoom
59:21
open office hours where anybody can
59:24
can visit me i’ve had people from 8 to
59:26
80 show up and ask me questions
59:29
and then all of all of our dms are open
59:32
on all of our platforms
59:33
and that will continue after the
59:35
election so
59:36
i’m looking forward to having as many
59:38
people kind of connect with me as
59:40
possible
59:40
and uh vote please vote june 22nd
59:44
is the primary and um you know
59:47
rank me number one take number one hey
59:51
it’s uh so june 22nd for any new yorkers
59:53
out there don’t forget june 22nd
59:54
is election day um but we also have
59:57
early voting
59:58
until the 20th i believe right and then
60:00
so the 21st is kind of a dead day in
60:02
between
60:02
so there’s no voting on that day but um
60:04
and i’m working at a poll site this will
60:06
be my very first time
60:08
as a poll worker i signed up for the
60:09
november election and i guess they just
60:11
had enough people who were
60:13
scared for our democracy and had signed
60:14
up didn’t need me
60:16
but i get to do my very first stint as a
60:19
poll worker
60:20
in this election so i’m excited about
60:23
that i’m excited for you
60:24
art to continue through this campaign
60:26
process and i’m excited for us
60:28
to raise a glass after this is all said
60:31
and done so
60:32
thank you so much for joining me here
60:33
today thank you to everyone who’s tuned
60:35
in
60:36
and i’m going to sign off right here
60:39
thank you again
60:40
art for being here thank you good luck
60:42
thank you

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