Massachusetts on ‘the offense’ exploring AI uses, says CIO

In Massachusetts, government tech leaders are going on “the offense” exploring new uses of artificial intelligence, according to state Chief Information Officer Jason Snyder.

Snyder told StateScoop in a recent video interview that the commonwealth has been diving into using AI and plans to set policy later. This fits right into the state’s AI plan after Gov. Maura Healey proposed an AI task force in her 2024 economic development plan. The group, which was created by executive order in February, is charged with studying AI and its impact on the state, private businesses, higher education and the public.

Snyder, who’s also secretary of the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security, said he’s working with the state’s economic development secretary to survey industry groups and find new potential uses of generative AI.

“We believe there’s a lot of work on policy, but in Massachusetts we believe you come up with a policy through use. That will better understand what policy needs to exist with AI, through actually trying to use it, coming up with use cases and building on it,” Snyder said this month at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers midyear conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

He said another top priority is ensuring state agencies and their data practices are ready for AI. Snyder said the state’s data analytics program is stepping up its focus on quality data and how to better integrate data across agencies, which can be a lengthy process.

“We had an example recently where we needed to bring in four agencies’ worth of data, and it took six months to do that, just getting them to agree to it,” Snyder said. “And then matching the data was very difficult.”

The AI task force’s work will be completed by August, Snyder said, when the group will lead a summit with the governor where it will present its findings.

“At the summit, we’re going to present not only the outcomes of the task force itself, but we’re also going to be presenting the use cases that our agencies used with our private sandbox back to the governor,” he said. “So, I’m excited to see what they come up with: the different ideas, the way that we can use AI to better help the constituents of Massachusetts.”