Rhode Island creates task force to study state’s use of AI

March 6, 2024

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee has signed an executive order that creates an Artificial Intelligence Task Force to assess the risks and benefits to state uses of AI. The order also creates a governance program known as the AI Center of Excellence within the Rhode Island Department of Administration to establish guidelines for implementing AI technology.

“Rhode Island recognizes that the rise of AI technology will enhance future government operations and change the way we do business,” McKee said in a press release. “This executive order is the first step in being proactive and preparing state government for this new technology.”

The AI Task Force will advise policy makers on the latest developments in the field of artificial intelligence. The governor is responsible for choosing members to the task force. So far, the governor tapped former Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin to chair the task force. McKee also appointed Langevin to lead Rhode Island College’s new Institute for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies.

Through the new AI Center of Excellence, the Department of Administration, working with the Institute for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies, will create a code of ethics for AI while keeping close tabs on new developments in the field. The center’s purpose is to promote the safe use of AI while establishing ethical guardrails and robust risk analysis.

Because AI depends on large amounts of accurate data to train algorithms, the governor also directed the Department of Administration to ensure various state data libraries are ready for the adoption of more AI technology. The department will manage data collection and facilitate data sharing across various Rhode Island agencies.

“Being able to readily connect and analyze data across state programs will afford us better insights on the effects programs have on Rhode Island communities,” said Department of Administration Director Jonathan Womer. “Having better data and data infrastructure will also put government in a better position to evaluate how AI can most benefit state workers and the public.”

To help manage the data, the governor also created a new position, Chief Data Officer, who will oversee the Data Center for Excellence that accompanies the AI Center for Excellence. The governor selected Brian Tardiff who previously served as the state’s chief information security officer. 

“By making our first order of business the crafting of a State Code of Ethics for this work, we are ensuring a human-centric focus that minimizes bias and maximizes support and resources,” Tardiff said.

The executive order also directs the Department of Labor and Training to provide training and education on AI. The training can be given to state employees, workers for city government and public higher education, as well as private companies that want to use AI to help job seekers through a state-supported employment platform.

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Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash

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