Youngkin seeks to ready Virginia for AI adoption



(The Center Square) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has issued an Executive Directive requiring the state’s Office of Regulatory Management to develop protocol and guidance for the use of artificial intelligence in the commonwealth, both by the state government and educational institutions.

While lawmakers nationwide are eager to understand AI and respond with appropriate legislation governing its use, Youngkin wants Virginia to move faster.

“Policymakers at the federal and state levels are working to understand this technology and establish necessary guardrails; however, the pace is too slow,” Youngkin wrote.

At the heart of the directive is a desire for state government and education to take advantage of AI’s potential benefits while protecting from privacy violations.

“These enhanced computing systems have the potential to increase productivity, transform work and impact the way government operates. The technologies also pose significant challenges, including job displacement, social and privacy intrusion, and the potential for both positive and negative impacts on education,” wrote Youngkin.

Youngkin acknowledges that AI utilization could contribute to Virginia’s economy, as the state has long endeavored to develop a thriving tech sector. Loudoun County is “the internet capital of the world,” as most of the world’s internet traffic is routed through the county. Northern Virginia is one of the biggest markets for data centers in the U.S.

In addition, the commonwealth is “home to the largest population of cybersecurity companies and personnel on the East Coast… and the most critical national security and military intelligence institutions in the nation,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The directive commissions the Office of Regulatory Management to develop recommendations for the following areas in pursuit of Virginia’s “responsible, ethical and transparent” adoption of AI: Legal and regulatory environment, education and workforce development, modernization of state government and economic development, and job creation.

The finished guidelines must “ensure that the use of AI by state government is transparent, secure and impartial and that there are sufficient safeguards in place to protect individual privacy rights,” Youngkin wrote.

For education, the office is to investigate helpful uses of AI – how it might facilitate greater learning and support students and teachers in their work – while prohibiting cheating.

Youngkin calls for guidance on the state’s use with “a focus on transparency and accountability in AI algorithms and decision-making processes.”

The office must examine industries in Virginia that might benefit from AI and look at how to attract more tech talent; it must also discern where the implementation of AI might result in job loss and develop suggestions for how to prepare the workforce and students for how to adapt to the new technology.

Lastly, more AI will mean more data centers, and as data centers require a large energy supply, the office is to work with the Virginia Department of Energy to learn how the state might prepare the grid.

The office has until Dec. 15 to complete its recommendations.



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