Inside Massachusetts’ push to lean into applied AI

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For better or worse, artificial intelligence is part of our world. Each day, A.I. software is learning new skills, whether it’s answering questions, writing stories or generating images.

But for Gov. Maura Healey, the focus is on the future of A.I. and how Massachusetts can play a role in those advancements.

“Nobody has owned how you’re going to take that A.I. and use it to help people cure diseases, solve problems and address infrastructure,” Healey said.

To grow that idea, the governor is proposing $100 million for an Applied AI Hub, part of her broader Mass Leads Act, and putting in place a task force to oversee where those funds would be used.

The Foxborough Fire Department will now use artificial intelligence to look at internal injuries while transporting patients.

The goal is to spur progress in the field, Technology Services and Security Secretary Jason Snyder said.

“Really focusing on how A.I. can help industries such as life sciences, health care, finance, higher education for Massachusetts,” Snyder said.

For experts, though, they’re urging caution, especially when it comes to specific categories like health care.

“I think we need to be smart in how it’s implemented,” said University of Massachusetts Amherst professor Przemyslaw Grabowicz. “It needs to be transparent technology, it has to be explainable and we need discussion on the goals.”

Snyder said those concerns are front of mind as the state moves forward: “Working through usage to better understand what are the risks of AI, what are the real things, staying away from fear.”

The A.I. Task Force was put in place by executive order and will be looking into those different industries, where state funds can best be used and prioritizing job creation throughout the process.

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