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State CIOs Take Measured Approach to Implementing Generative AI

At the NASCIO Annual conference in Minneapolis, Arkansas CTO Jonathan Askins echoed the sentiments of his peers in his cautious optimism about AI in government and said they won’t have a second chance to get it right.

Arkansas CTO Jonathan Askins
Government Technology/David Kidd
“You let that genie out of the bottle, and it’s very difficult to get back in.”

That was how Arkansas CTO Jonathan Askins described his perspective on generative AI for government at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Annual Conference in Minneapolis this week.

It’s a cautious approach that speaks to the need to make sure the right policies are in place as states begin to roll out these new tools in ways that are ethical, free from bias, and maintain security and resident privacy. Many IT leaders shared Askins’ sentiment, including Texas CIO Amanda Crawford, who emphasized why it’s so critical to stand up those guardrails.

“There are a lot of things that are rolled into generative AI because of the unique role government has in that our constituents have to do business with us. They don’t have a choice,” Crawford said. “And because of that there’s a greater responsibility to make sure we’re implementing those technologies carefully.”

While Askins sees use cases for generative AI in Arkansas, like improving the process of applying for Medicare or other state benefits, he explains that government has to get it right the first time, because they won’t get a second chance.

Lauren Kinkade is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.
Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including <i>Government Technology</i>, <i>Governing</i>, <i>Industry Insider, Emergency Management</i> and the Center for Digital Education. She has been with e.Republic since 2011, and has decades of writing, editing and leadership experience. A California native, Noelle has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history.