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Nevada State Legislature, Carson City. (Photo: Megan Barth for The Nevada Globe)

OPINION: Artificial Intelligence Can Help Nevada’s Government Be More Effective

States like Pennsylvania are leading the way in embracing technological advancement to help their operations run more efficiently

By Pat Hickey, April 24, 2024 12:50 pm

As artificial intelligence increases its utility in our everyday lives, thought leaders are having critical conversations on how to best use the tech to advance our society, local governance, and national economy. While the private sector has already found many practical applications for the technology, such as in the healthcare industry, the public sector has also made significant strides. States like Pennsylvania are leading the way in embracing technological advancement to help their operations run more efficiently. 

Given the growing enthusiasm to adopt artificial intelligence into American life, many in our state are left wondering why Nevada is not doing the same. 

In light of this question, the Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities’ annual fundraiser explored the intersection of public policy and Artificial intelligence. Guided by the Center’s primary mission of addressing the key policy challenges Nevada’s lawmakers face, the event’s discussions centered around AI’s applicability to the work done by our state government. Conversations like these come at a critical time as lawmakers consider their legislative agendas for a return to Carson City next year. Yet, as they look to set guidelines on the topic, they should not overlook the significant potential AI has to expand our state’s capabilities dramatically. 

At the Guinn event, public leaders, academics, and experts agreed that AI has the potential to support many of the Silver State’s public roles. For instance, one expert pointed out the technology’s ability to help adjudicate claims with government agencies, such as Veterans Affairs. Meanwhile, others discussed how it can make lawmaking and policy research far more efficient, expanding our legislators’ capabilities and allowing them to be more data-driven as they try to make up for lost time in next year’s session. 

Despite the number of promising AI applications that have been raised, Nevada has lagged in wielding it. While agencies like the Nevada Highway Patrol have found use for it in reducing the number of accidents on our state’s highways, other parts of our state government have been slower to explore its capabilities. 

Governor Joe Lombardo delivers his State of the State to the Nevada legislature. (Photo: Megan Barth for The NV Globe)

Considering the bills introduced by the governor in last year’s session around addressing inefficiencies in our state government, further adoption of AI just makes sense. As a former state legislator, I see the many areas where leveraging it could substantially help our state and its residents. Whether it is used to help deliver various state services faster or to take on clerical roles to get through backlogs of administrative work, Nevada’s citizens would benefit from the state government employing artificial intelligence.

Since Congress has yet to pass any significant AI regulations, states are filling the void. Since 2019, over a dozen states have enacted legislation focused on regulating the design, development, and use of artificial intelligence. As Nevada’s lawmakers return to session next year, and possibly take up AI-related legislation, they should do so with care. The Council on State Governments is one of many organizations that are advising states to be judicious in developing regulations, recommending that legislators ensure the design, development, and use of AI is informed by collaborative dialogue with stakeholders from a variety of disciplines. 

Overregulation could not only turn away potential industry partners but could also stagnate the technology’s innovation, which is finding new ways seemingly every day to serve the public. I trust that Nevada legislators will be judicious in their approach to regulation that won’t stifle innovation. 


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Pat Hickey
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