Feb 14, 2024 - Business

Massachusetts taps tech leaders, Boston officials for AI task force

Illustration of the Massachusetts State House with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Gov. Maura Healey signed an executive order Wednesday launching a task force on AI implementation in Massachusetts.

Why it matters: AI has the potential to transform the state’s largest industries, higher education, state operations — or could upend those sectors, if Massachusetts falls behind.

Driving the news: The Healey administration tapped nearly two dozen business leaders, college administrators and local government officials to join the strategic task force.

  • Leading the task force are four co-chairs, including Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao and Technology Services and Security Secretary Jason Snyder.
  • The task force includes tech veterans like C10 Labs co-founder Patricia Geli, Duckbill founder Meghan Joyce and and Jeffrey Leiden, executive chairman of Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
  • Santiago Garces, the city's chief information officer, is also a task force co-chair.

The big picture: The Healey administration not only wants to understand AI’s influence, but also turn Massachusetts into an applied AI hub.

  • Healey recently filed a bill to modernize the state's IT systems that would include $25 million for capital AI-related projects.
  • The state also formed a partnership with Northeastern called “InnovateMA” that started in mid-January and runs until July.
  • Under the partnership, among other projects, co-ops are using AI to help state workers navigate piles of policy documents at MassHealth and MassDOT’s procedures for various highway projects.

What they’re saying: "Our goal is not only to propel the growth of AI, but to employ it to stimulate job creation, elevate our state’s economy, and lengthen our lead in key sectors," Hao said in a news release.

Zoom in: The task force is expected to make specific recommendations about how the state can support Massachusetts businesses on AI adoption and how AI-focused startups can scale here.

  • They will look at generative AI, but also on machine learning’s abilities to make predictions and decisions that could transform education, biotech, health care, robotics, financial services and other industries.

What's next: The task force starts its work this month.

  • The members are expected to deliver recommendations to the governor later this year.

Here's the full list of members:

Co-chairs

  • Secretary Yvonne Hao, EOED
  • Secretary Jason Snyder, EOTSS
  • Mike Milligan, vice president and chief information officer, University of Massachusetts
  • Santiago Garces, chief information officer at City of Boston

Other members:

  • Erica Bradshaw, chief technology officer at Harvard
  • Massachusetts Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier
  • Usama Fayyad, professor and executive director, Institute for Experiential AI at Northeastern
  • Patricia Geli, co-founder of C10 Labs/MIT
  • Segun Idowu, chief of economic opportunity and inclusion for the City of Boston
  • Dr. Robert Johnson, president of Western New England University
  • Meghan Joyce, CEO and founder of Duckbill
  • Patrick Larkin, deputy director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative
  • Jeffrey Leiden, executive chairman of Vertex Pharmaceuticals
  • Spyros Matsoukas, vice president and distinguished scientist of AI at Amazon
  • Vipin Mayar, executive vice president, head of AI innovation at Fidelity
  • Sears Merritt, head of enterprise technology and experience at MassMutual
  • Armen Mkrtchyan, origination partner at Flagship Pioneering
  • Massachusetts Sen. Michael Moore
  • Jane Moran, chief information and digital officer at Mass General Brigham
  • Ed Park, co-founder and CEO of Devoted Health
  • Rudina Seseri, founder and managing partner at Glasswing
  • Soundar Srinivasan, director of the AI Program at Microsoft New England
  • Fernanda Viegas, principal scientist and co-lead of People + AI Research (PAIR) at Google
  • Grace Wang, president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Jeremy Wertheimer, visiting scientist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
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