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With support from Google, the civic tech nonprofit U.S. Digital Response announced Thursday it will kick off this spring a new initiative to assist state and local governments in developing their uses of generative artificial intelligence. Google will provide the group $1 million in funding and pro bono technical support via the Google.org Fellowship Program.

The U.S. Digital Response plans to hire a generative AI technologist-in-residence who will guide the program’s direction and define how USDR can help governments optimize the technology. This spring, Google will send a group of fellows for a term of six months to work with government partners on generative AI projects tailored to their communities’ needs.

As part of its focus on AI, the civic tech group is developing a generative AI-powered unemployment insurance tool prototype. This tool offers plain-language translation support for workers with limited English proficiency, with input provided by Spanish speakers and government agencies during its initial development stage.

Hillary Hartley, USDR’s chief executive, emphasized that while AI is a powerful tool, it requires thoughtful and transparent use to address complex problems effectively. She highlighted the potential for AI to enhance service delivery, especially for marginalized communities. In her words: “We’re creating a safe space for governments to test out their hypotheses and begin their journey.”

Jen Carter, the global head of technology at Google.org, expressed enthusiasm about supporting U.S. Digital Response in providing guidance and resources for governments nationwide to leverage AI opportunities effectively. Carter looks forward to collaborating closely with USDR in this endeavor.

This collaboration between U.S. Digital Response and Google underscores the increasing role of generative artificial intelligence in driving innovation across various sectors such as state, local government operations, and beyond into higher education IT landscapes.

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