New York City unveils an ‘artificial intelligence action plan’

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The same New York City administration to launch a “Rat Action Plan” is back with an “Artificial Intelligence Action Plan.”

Mayor Eric Adams on Monday unveiled a citywide AI “action plan” that pledged – in broad-brushstrokes – to evaluate AI tools and associated risks, boost AI skills among city employees and support “the responsible implementation of these technologies to improve quality of life for New Yorkers,” according to a statement from the mayor’s office.

The city’s 51-page AI action plan establishes a series of steps the city will take in the coming years to help better understand and responsibly implement the technology that has taken the tech sector and broader business world by storm in recent months.

While government use of automated technologies has often courted controversy, New York City’s approach to AI, so far, seems to be focused on laying a framework for future AI use-cases as well as engaging with outside experts and the public.

The first step listed in the city’s AI action plan is establishing an “AI Steering Committee” of city agency stakeholders. The document goes on to list nearly 40 “actions,” with 29 of those set to be started or completed within the next year. The city said it will publish an annual AI progress report to communicate the city’s updates and implementation of the plan.

Also on Monday, city officials said the government was piloting the first citywide AI-powered chatbot to help business owners navigate operating and growing businesses in New York City. The AI chatbot, already available in beta on the official city of New York website, was trained on information from more than 2,000 NYC Business web pages.

The chatbot uses Microsoft’s Azure AI services, per a disclaimer on the tool.

In a statement announcing the AI action plan, Mayor Adams acknowledged “the potential pitfalls and associated risks these technologies present,” and pledged to be “clear-eyed” about these.

The mayor also expressed hope that the action plan will “strike a critical balance in the global AI conversation — one that will empower city agencies to deploy technologies that can improve lives while protecting against those that can do harm.”

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