California outlines future of artificial intelligence

Published On: November 23, 2020

The State of California has taken initial steps to consider how artificial intelligence will play an inevitable role in delivering services to the people of the Golden State.

Legislation passed in 2019 called for California to work with stakeholders and develop guidelines by January 2021.

At a recent vendor forum by the California Department of Technology, Chief of Statewide Technology Policy CDT Pam Haase gave an update on the department’s initiative, which began earlier in the year but was slowed down considerably by constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Image by Michael Dziedzic, Unsplash

Haase laid out three broad objectives regarding the implementation of AI to state departments, each of which has a varying level of understanding and experience with AI technology.

Those objectives include:

Demonstrating how AI can improve delivery and digital services. CDT has partnered with the CITRIS Policy Lab to study industry use of AI and produce a report that outlines basic recommendations for AI adoption within state government.

Providing guidelines for the ethical and responsible use of AI. CDT wants to establish trust from the public in their ability to implement AI in an ethical manner.
Providing a practical approach to implementing AI. This includes creating an AI vendor pool, training for both the business and technical side of procuring and implementing the new technology.

Haase also noted that she expects a concrete policy framework regarding the use of AI to become available by the spring of 2021 following input from the public via a listening session.

In an effort to cater to varying needs statewide, Haase stressed that AI will provide value to any and all departments regardless of their awareness and experience level with the technology.

“The deliverables are going to provide something of value to everyone no matter where you’re at, whether you’re brand new to AI, or whether your department is already currently using it,” Haase said.

Further, according to CDT’s Chief Technology Innovation Officer Manveer Bola, who also spoke at the forum, one of the major priorities regarding the implementation of AI technology is to tailor digital services to meet “specific user needs.”

Part of that includes using AI to promote web diversity by quickly and accurately translating websites as well as providing customer service mimicking a one-on-one chat with an employee.

Another goal Bola mentioned was to use AI to gather COVID response surveys, even reading into them further than one would expect from AI.

“We’re looking at AI to try to help us boil down those responses into much more meaningful output that we can consume easier, maybe even measuring sentiment,” Bola said.

About the Author: Will Keys

Will Keys writes about technology issues for the GovReport. He is a graduate of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. He can be reached at will at govreport.org