Privacy, data literacy key to generative AI rollout in Texas

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

Crawford said the state’s artificial intelligence advisory council — which includes Crawford along with members of the legislature, academia and government agencies — has so far held two meetings since it was created in June 2023.

“What we’ve done is we’re really exploring what are the concerns, how can we deploy it safely in government. They’re excited to be able to deploy it and really leverage what could really be a transformational technology for the better,” Crawford said during an interview at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers midyear conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

Some concerns the council is exploring, Crawford said, include bias, privacy, security and constitutional protections. To address the privacy concerns, she said, the state’s chief privacy officer is working closely with the security and data teams within state’s Department of Information Resources to ensure privacy principles are top of mind for new IT projects.

“We’ve built out a technology innovation and education center that’s run under our chief technology office,” she said. “And we’re bringing in folks from the corporate community to talk to our agencies to look for proofs of concept to really do a hands on lab where folks can get in there and explore because those challenges for up-skilling our workforce to be able to handle not just gen AI, but what’s the next emerging technology? Because we know there’s gonna be more — this is just the current iteration of what’s new.”

Another key part of Texas’ AI rollout, Crawford said, is ensuring that state employees and policymakers are well-versed in data best practices. She said DIR is accomplishing this through its data literacy program, which has been growing in popularity on YouTube since it launched in October 2022.

“So our goal behind this [data literacy program] was trying to make sure that business leadership, that decision makers understand the power of data, the value of data and the importance of that data management and governance,” Crawford said.

Crawford said she hopes that by this fall the council will have completed an AI inventory and develop a plan for use guidelines.

“We want to make sure that it’s accessible, and that whatever we’re designing, not only do we keep humans in the loop, but that we also design it with our constituents in mind,” Crawford said.