Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming one of the most significant disruptors in technology since the advent of the internet. There are many unknowns when it comes to AI that have resulted in fear surrounding its potential influence, power and societal impact. In Arizona, however, we’re taking a responsible and practical approach to AI by creating spaces for discussion and collaboration focused on AI and its application.

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At the Arizona Technology Council, we’ve created the Arizona AI Ecosystem Committee comprised of industry leaders working with AI across the state’s technology ecosystem. We are committed to facilitating, informing, promoting, nurturing and driving all things related to AI with the goal to inform Arizona companies and the public about the safe use of this evolving technology.

Building an industry

Taking this committee a step further, the Council will also be forming subcommittees to tackle various subsectors of AI. In addition to aerospace and defense, and hospitality, the subcommittees will focus on funding/collaboration opportunities, workforce development, education and mentorship. The Council is also working to form public policy, health care and mining subcommittees. The goal of these subcommittees is to create a small, actively engaged group of leaders to work through the challenges and disruptions, as well as the solutions, posed by AI in each of these industries.

At the education level, there are many colleges and universities exploring AI learning. Arizona State University recently announced a partnership with OpenAI to expand AI education at the university. The Maricopa County Community College District just announced a collaboration with Intel and the Arizona Commerce Authority to create Arizona’s first artificial intelligence certificate and degree programs.

In terms of AI growth and innovation, we’re seeing a huge influx of AI activity at both the hardware and software level. On the hardware side, TSMC is investing $65 billion in Arizona to build three chip fabrication facilities focused on powering internet-connected home appliances, smart phones and PCs, EVs and autonomous vehicles, cloud data centers, airlines and space stations, and AI-powered applications. TSMC chips produced here will power the next generation of AI applications, furthering Arizona’s position as the chips capital while establishing the state as a new powerhouse in the AI industry.

On the software side, there are several companies developing powerful technology built upon AI tools. Sinatra is looking to revolutionize the hospitality and insurance industries by providing AI tools to help with the underwriting process for renewals, audits, inspections and more. KeepWOL, a company in the human resources space, is using an online platform backed by AI tools and gamification to build communication skills for teams and employees at the enterprise and business levels. It was developed as an expansion to a card game to include objective pathways built around science, psychology and AI. 

Workforce development and education is another exciting area for the application of AI to help replace jobs that will be lost due to AI. ElevateEdAZ is preparing Arizona students for college and career through stronger alignment between education, business and the community. A focus of ElevateEdAZ is to provide young adults with the tools they need to serve the industries of tomorrow through AI and technology training.

New uses of AI

In medical, Synapse Labs, a leading, independent Contract Research Organization (CRO), offers a comprehensive Bioavailability/Bioequivalence (BA/BE), Clinical Trial service, Pharmacovigilance and Regulatory Services to global pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. Their platform is using AI to provide high quality, customized clinical research services with rapid turnaround time.

On the data analytics and management side, Mercurio Analytics is applying AI to help government agencies with the decision-making process. The company is dedicated to revolutionizing government data management through Mercurio D4, an all-inclusive, end-to-end software as a service (SaaS) solution. Designed for state, local and federal agencies, Mercurio D4 empowers users to embrace a recovery-oriented, constituent-centric approach, resulting in safer, healthier and more enjoyable communities.

Mercurio Analytics CEO Minky Kernacs is also one of the founding members of the Arizona AI Ecosystem Committee. She has been following the growing trend of AI and the offshoot Generative AI to utilize them to enhance the power of her company’s solution while also helping the Arizona technology community learn about their application and how to use them responsibly. 

In a conversation with Minky on the state of Arizona’s AI ecosystem, she said, “It is a very exciting time in Arizona for the development of AI. Between industry giants in the hardware space like TSMC and Avnet to a growing number of startups applying AI to age-old challenges in unique and innovative ways, we expect Arizona to become a global hub of activity and innovation in AI.”

The Council is excited about the future of AI, but we’re approaching it with care to ensure that we’re using the amazing solutions it offers responsibly. Between the Council, our members and our partners across the technology community, we’re working hard to ensure that Arizona companies are prepared for the future of AI and all that it will bring. 

Author: Steven G. Zylstra is the president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council.