Published on January 5, 2024, 11:18 pm
Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being used in various sectors, including government. However, the effectiveness of AI tools largely relies on the quality of data they are fed. Without good quality data, AI tools risk producing inaccurate or nonsensical results.
To ensure good quality data, it is essential for the public workforce to possess strong data literacy skills. As governments develop policies and guidelines for the use of AI in government operations, training and upskilling the workforce becomes crucial. The World Economic Forum has identified AI and big data as top training priorities for companies until 2027, especially those with a large employee base.
According to the report, “the ability to efficiently use AI tools now exceeds computer programming by humans, networks and cybersecurity skills”. This emphasizes the importance of equipping employees with knowledge and skills to utilize AI effectively. However, the public sector lags behind other sectors in terms of adopting AI technologies and prioritizing training in AI and big data.
Fear may be one reason why governments are slow to embrace AI technology and invest in training programs. The Chief Innovation Officer of New Jersey, Beth Noveck, pointed out that while policymakers understand the significance of data-driven decision-making, many lack practical experience in working with data. To address this, Noveck suggests making AI accessible by providing examples and references that are relevant to employees’ daily work. She even recommends experimenting with publicly available generative AI tools like ChatGPT at home as a way for employees to learn about AI.
In addition to training programs, governments need to hire or train business analysts and data architects who can effectively map relevant data to specific government functions. This involves understanding what information is needed and how it should be delivered back to agencies and the public.
Data mapping can be complex but hands-on training can help employees gain confidence in working with data for generative AI. Skillsoft’s annual IT Skills and Salary Report indicates that only 15% of IT professionals reported no tangible benefit from training, highlighting the value of upskilling and reskilling employees.
Government entities also need more workers to ensure compliance with data protection laws and privacy regulations. Additionally, ethical considerations are crucial in the use of AI. Governments must establish governance frameworks to address potential biases and promote ethical practices. Training programs should focus on educating employees about responsible and ethical use of AI.
The potential for generative AI-driven misinformation and disinformation is a concern for government leaders. The technology has been known to produce incorrect results or even “hallucinations.” To mitigate these risks, training both AI systems and employees who utilize them is vital. Inaccurate information can have severe consequences in the realm of public services and governance.
In conclusion, the effective use of AI tools in government heavily relies on good quality data and the data literacy skills of the public workforce. Governments need to prioritize training programs that empower employees with relevant AI skills. Data mapping, compliance with privacy laws, and ethical considerations must also be addressed through proper training initiatives. By investing in these areas, governments can unlock the full potential of AI technologies for better decision-making, efficient operations, and improved public services.