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New Jersey Appoints Beth Noveck as First Chief AI Strategist

Noveck, also serving as the state’s chief innovation officer, takes over the new job as the governor calls for an "AI Moonshot." Her appointment reflects AI hiring trends in other parts of government.

New Jersey has appointed Beth Noveck, one of the public sector’s most visible artificial intelligence experts, as the state’s first-ever chief AI strategist.

She takes on the job as the state launches what Gov. Phil Murphy recently called an “AI Moonshot” effort focused on innovation in public services, health, education and other areas.

Noveck already serves as the state’s first chief innovation officer.

She is director of The GovLab and the Burnes Center for Social Change at Northeastern University. That school houses an operation called InnovateUS, which in 2024 launched an AI tutorial program geared toward public agency professionals.

Noveck also worked as the first U.S. deputy chief technology officer during the Barack Obama administration.

Murphy announced Noveck’s newest job in his recent State of the State address. Neither state officials nor Noveck offered any immediate additional comment.

“Thanks to Beth — and our chief technology officer, Chris Rein — we have already begun training thousands of our government workers to use generative AI to help New Jerseyans access benefits and services,” Murphy said during the speech. “And that scope will only grow in years to come.”

According to that speech, Murphy envisions state government acting as a “catalyst” for AI research and development, with the moonshot turning New Jersey into “the home-base for AI-powered game-changers.”

Recalling the history of tech innovation in New Jersey — he mentioned Bell Labs and the state’s massive pharmaceutical industry, along with strengths in engineering and higher education — Murphy all but issued a challenge to the 49 other state governments on artificial intelligence.

“We may be a small state, but we have always thought and acted big,” he said. “And it is time to start thinking and acting big about generative AI.”

The appointment of Noveck reflects a trend that for now seems most prominent on the federal level in the wake of President Joe Biden’s executive order on AI late last year: a scramble to install chief AI officers in federal agencies.

States, meanwhile, are focusing on new AI laws and regulations as a variety of tools marketed as being powered or supported by artificial intelligence make their way into public safety, citizen engagement and other parts of the public sector.

Since 2019, in fact, at least 17 states have passed 29 bills that deal with AI, according to a December report from The Council of State Governments.

“These bills primarily address two regulatory concerns: data privacy and accountability,” the report stated. “Legislatures in California, Colorado and Virginia have led the way in establishing regulatory and compliance frameworks for AI systems.”