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Privacy and data literacy are key to adopting generative AI in Texas

Texas Chief Information Officer Amanda Crawford said at a technology conference Monday that privacy and data literacy considerations have been key to the state's rollout of generative artificial intelligence, which is still in the exploratory phase.

Crawford said the State Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence – which includes Crawford as well as members of the legislature, academia and government agencies – has held two meetings so far since its inception in June 2023.

“We really looked at what the concerns were and how we could use it safely in government. They're excited to be able to deploy it and really leverage what could be a truly transformative technology for the better,” Crawford said during an interview at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers' mid-year conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

Concerns the council is investigating include bias, privacy, security and constitutional protections, according to Crawford. To address privacy concerns, she said, the state's chief privacy officer is working closely with security and data teams in the state's Department of Information Resources to ensure privacy principles are a top priority in new IT projects.

“We have established a technology innovation and education center that reports to our Chief Technology Office,” she said. “And we're getting people from the corporate world to talk to our agencies to look for proofs of concept, to really do a hands-on lab where people can join in and explore the challenges that we have for upskilling our workforce. “ to not only deal with genetic AI, but also the next emerging technology? Because we know there will be more – this is just the current version of what’s new.”

Another important part of AI adoption in Texas, Crawford said, is ensuring state officials and policymakers are well-versed in data best practices. She said DIR achieves this through its data literacy program, which has become increasingly popular on YouTube since its launch in October 2022.

“That’s our goal behind it [data literacy program] “I wanted to make sure that leadership and decision makers understood the power of data, the value of data and the importance of that data management and management,” Crawford said.

Crawford said she hopes the council will have completed an AI inventory and developed a usage policy plan by the fall.

“We want to make sure that it's accessible and that whatever we design, we not only keep people informed, but we design it with our constituents in mind,” Crawford said.

Anna Harden

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