IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

What Does AI Mean for Human-Centered Design?

As governments increasingly put end users at the forefront of how they're developing digital services, we checked in with state CIOs to see where that effort intersects with the rise of artificial intelligence.

city silhouette of a person in front of a cityscape with digital lines connecting dots
We asked state CIOs: What does AI mean for human-centered design?

Amanda Crawford, Texas CIO
Government Technology/David Kidd
“It’s more important than ever, when we’re looking at generative AI, to make sure that we are designing it and building those systems with humans in mind. We like to use the term ‘artificial intelligence,’ but at the end of the day, it’s not really intelligent. It’s just an algorithm. And so because of that, and especially in government, trust is foundational and we can’t lose that trust. We need to make sure that if we’re delivering services and we’re leveraging generative AI to do that, we design that system and design those responses for the constituents we’re trying to reach. So whether we’re looking at demographic issues, accessibility issues, age issues, connectivity issues, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve really taken all humans into consideration when we’re building out those platforms.” — Amanda Crawford, CIO, Texas

David Edinger, Colorado CIO
Government Technology/David Kidd
“We’ve been thinking about trying to replicate the human experience through a chatbot, which can generate output and be a generative AI tool. Now we’re looking at the way in which we craft those types of technologies to be more than or different from what the human experience would be. So the design used to follow, OK, let’s take the knowledge base that an agent would use, just replicate that and try to come as close as we can to that human experience. Now it’s, wow, these are really powerful tools. How can we make that experience even better and then free up that human capital to do other things that aren’t so repetitive? Like, when are your DMVs open? In the past it would have been, well, the DMV is open from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday. And now it’s, the DMV is open from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday and based upon the current data, I can tell you that the one you want to go to is this one, because it has the shortest line. And by the way, before you go there, you better go to AirCare Colorado, because you’re going to need an emissions test. So don’t bother going, because you’re just going to waste a trip if you do that. That’s kind of the difference that I’m talking about that exists now that didn’t exist before.” — David Edinger, CIO, Colorado

Tim Galluzi, Nevada CIO
Government Technology/David Kidd
“[AI] has raised the bar in citizen and constituent expectations. I think that they’re seeing the use of these tools in the private sector and now the expectation is that in government, we’re going to do the same. And we’re still going to deliver that same level of experience for them. So I think it’s going to make us faster, it’s going to make us more efficient and it’s going to help tie the pieces of that citizen experience closer together. I’m looking for opportunities for using data across the entire executive branch to really make informed decisions and to help make the citizen experience better.” — Tim Galluzi, CIO, Nevada

Jason Snyder, Massachusetts CIO
Government Technology/David Kidd
“It starts with the focus on human-centered design. It’s an essential area and so really working to understand our constituents’ needs and developing for them is essential. What I see with AI and sort of the foundational area of it is meeting people where they are, and AI is incredible at that. So it starts with translation services and also involves the ability to speak in natural language. I think both of those are easy adaptations to any application, to any website, and we can do more of it. And also some of the concerns about AI, some of the risks that people are concerned about, they’re less applicable for translation services. So I think that’s foundationally what we should be doing across all services.” — Jason Snyder, CIO, Massachusetts

Tracy Barnes, Indiana CIO
Government Technology/David Kidd
“In Indiana our goal is to try and help find a way to make our engagement with our citizens as frictionless and seamless as possible. We do see artificial intelligence as a mechanism that can allow us to engage with our citizens, get them good data more accurately and more quickly, and help them understand the information. That’s spread across our websites and web footprint, and it’s all the public data that’s already there and available. How do we put that in a mechanism that allows them easier and quicker access to find the services, solutions and information that they’re looking for from us? It seems to be a pretty solid use case and opportunity for AI and that’s what we’re going to be looking to pursue.” — Tracy Barnes, CIO, Indiana

Tarek Tomes, Minnesota CIO
Government Technology/David Kidd
“We believe that people are at the center of all the things we do and all the solutions that we provide, and I don’t think AI changes that one single bit. Start with the engagement with residents, visitors, businesses, those that interact with government services. Understand how they want to interact and make sure that you’re offering services on their terms, and then I think we’ll find a lot of opportunities where the public expects AI-augmented solutions to be in place, whether it’s interpreting laws, providing automation, providing an opportunity, providing an ability to receive services in different ways. So I don’t think there is a conflict between the two. They absolutely intersect and support each other. I think AI is going to represent tremendous opportunity to capitalize on those themes that we learn from a design perspective on how to serve people better.” — Tarek Tomes, CIO, Minnesota

Bill Smith, Alaska CIO
Government Technology/David Kidd
“[AI] is going to really help us focus a lot more on the consumer of services, which is really what human-centered design is all about. One of the biggest impacts that I see coming from the AI developments recently is the ability for natural language interaction between users and the systems that they’re getting support from, and I think that plays really well with human-centered design. It helps us meet them where they’re at, and it also helps our constituents have a really contextual dialog with technology that they’ve never been able to have before, so I think AI will really augment that effort.” — Bill Smith, CIO, Alaska

Shawnzia Thomas, Georgia CIO
Government Technology/David Kidd
“AI is going to help with human-centered design because it’s going to make things easier. Our citizens are wanting things to be simple, easy and fast, and I think GenAI is going to make that happen because we’re talking about helping our staff do their jobs more efficiently. The more efficient you make those jobs, the better we can deliver services to our constituents. Easier, faster and friendlier.” — Shawnzia Thomas, CIO, Georgia

This story originally appeared in the July/August 2024 issue of Government Technology magazine. Click here to view the full digital edition online.
Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including Government Technology, Governing, Industry Insider, Emergency Management 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.
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.