What will the future of AI look like in Texas?

This is a preview of our Texas 2036 newsletter taking a look at the future of AI in Texas. To receive this weekly look at our work, sign up here.

AI in Texas: How will it impact our future?

Every day, it seems, another article appears with the latest details on how AI will change the way you do your job, make everyone a potential artist or even find the cure for cancer.

At the same time, anxiety over AI’s ability to disrupt the economy, personal relationships or even our democratic processes is on the rise.

With that in mind, we take a look this week at how Texas is working to reap AI’s many benefits while responsibly managing the technology’s risks.

Classroom to Career: Growing need for AI skills

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This image was generated by AI.

To meet the demand of a future where AI tools are increasingly integrated in our lives, our workforce must meet the demand for the skills required to design, develop and maintain these tools, both on the programming and hardware level.

1. A recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas showed that nearly 40% of Texas companies already use artificial intelligence, with another 17% planning to use it in the coming year.

This suggests that here in Texas, workforce programming will likely need to evolve soon to properly upskill or reskill workers based on how AI tools may augment, refocus or render obsolete existing job duties. 📊

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Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Texas Business Outlook Surveys (April 29,2024)

2. Employees, too, are recognizing the need to incorporate AI in their skill sets.

A recent joint report by Microsoft and LinkedIn found that 75% of global knowledge workers use AI at work today, and 46% of users started using it less than six months ago.

It’s paying off. Users say AI helps them save time (90%), focus on their most important work (85%), be more creative (84%), and enjoy their work more (83%). 🧑‍💻

3. It’s not just the workplace.

New research finds nearly 25% of children are using AI tools to complete or help with their schoolwork. Also, 40% of children say they have engaged with generative AI, including over half of 13- and 14-year-olds. 🍎

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“Alexa, what is AI?”

Traditional AI-driven systems are already a part of our everyday lives, like social media platform algorithms, search engines, or virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri.

Generative AI tools, which are an advanced subset of AI tools using large language models, are an advanced, highly complex form of deep learning. McKinsey summarizes generative AI as, “algorithms … that can be used to create new content, including audio, code, images, text, simulations, and videos.”

How do businesses see the AI opportunity?

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Rapid advances in generative AI, as evidenced by the accelerated releases of ChatGPT, are capturing consumers’ imagination and are spurring adoption of AI as a workplace tool.

According to data kept by the University of Texas at Austin, 97 million new AI-related jobs are expected globally over the next two years.

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Here are just a few examples of how some Texas enterprises and entrepreneurs are catching the AI wave:

🏥 A $1 million grant from an initiative of the University of Texas System to researchers in San Antonio and Tyler aims to improve trauma care by using AI to speed the time in delivering care in the so-called “golden hour” after a traumatic injury.

🚛 Outside of Dallas, a trucking company has set up a new terminal for self-driving trucks powered by generative AI.

💈 John Paul DeJoria revolutionized hair care with Paul Mitchell products and tequila with Patrón. He now has an AI startup.

🌮 And Dallas’ Velvet Taco is using AI to make new taco recipes.

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Photo: Supplied by Velvet Taco to Business Insider


Is our infrastructure enough for an AI boom?

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The rollout of advanced AI tools will require more of the digital infrastructure underpinning these systems, including improved data quality and cybersecurity process and practice.

Of rising concern is the amount of power used in the development and operation of these advanced AI models. A recent study found a typical search on Google consumed 0.3 watts of electricity while a ChatGPT query consumed 2.9 watts — nearly a tenfold increase.

So how much dispatchable energy would this conversion to AI require? The Houston Chronicle noted in a recent editorial that for Google to fully integrate AI requests into its search engine worldwide would require enough electricity to power 700,000 homes for a year.

Questions remain as to how Texas and the U.S. will be able to meet the power demands associated with an AI-related spike in power consumption.

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🔌 So, can the grid take it? ERCOT, which manages the electric grid for most of Texas, made news recently when the agency’s chief forecasted a 37% jump in electricity demand from industrial-sized users, fueled by an influx of artificial intelligence data centers and bitcoin miners.

Texas has roughly 276 data centers across the state, according to the Houston Chronicle, with most of these facilities located in the Dallas area. Last year alone, 386 megawatts of data center space came online in the DFW Metroplex.

Coupled with increased demand for air conditioning and electric vehicles, this increase in electric demand for all these new data centers is bound to test the state’s electric grid and could, in turn, limit the number of data centers that can come online to support AI’s growth.

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Shortages in microchips and real estate to site new data centers are also limiting factors on AI’s future growth.

Analysts estimate that training the version of ChatGPT that came out in 2022 required more than 10,000 of Nvidia’s GPUs, while more recent updates have required significantly more.

Meanwhile, the amount of data-center space in the U.S. grew 26% last year, according to real-estate firm CBRE, and a record amount was under construction. The price of available space is rising while vacancy rates are negligible — a sign that supply isn’t keeping up with demand.

🏭 On the positive side, new investments in boosting chip production are starting to pay off, including at the new Samsung factory outside Austin.

A new report from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), projects that U.S. chip manufacturing capacity is projected to triple by 2032.

“That increase is expected to grow the U.S.’s share of global semiconductor production to 14% by 2032 from 10% today, marking growth in the country’s manufacturing footprint for the first time in decades, according to the SIA.”

⚠️ AI and the need for guardrails ⚠️

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This image was generated by AI.

Private and public sector entities already must protect their data from cyberattacks and must address issues around data privacy, data quality and interoperability, and legacy information systems.

But with advanced AI tools being trained on this data, the security and quality of that becomes paramount, as the quality of the outputs generated by a given AI tool is highly dependent on what is fed to the tool.

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With the passage of House Bill 2060 in 2023, state lawmakers authorized the creation of an advisory council on AI, including experts from academia, to weigh in on the use of AI in state agencies.

The council will issue a report by year’s end, assessing the impact the state’s use of AI has had on citizens and make policy recommendations designed to protect Texans from the detrimental impacts of AI, including:

  • protecting their privacy interests,
  • ensuring freedom from AI-related discrimination, and
  • promoting an ethical framework for the use of AI by state agencies.

UT journalism professor Sharon Strover told UT alumni magazine, The Alcalde, that local governments must also think through their use of AI, which excels at combing through camera footage and flagging content for people to double-check. The technology can be used for multiple purposes, from wildfire-alert cameras to facial recognition, so it’s vital for municipal government to establish consistent AI-use policies.

What state agencies are already working in AI?

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Photo illustration created with AI.

👷 Texas Workforce Commission: The state agency responsible for providing workforce development services to Texas employers and job seekers has developed an AI tool to provide customized recommendations of job openings.

🛣️ Texas Department of Transportation: The agency is using AI to improve incident response times and coverage for any problems that arise on Texas roads. The agency is also looking into ways to use AI to improve bridge inspections.

🛜 Department of Information Resources: This agency that serves as the state’s IT department has launched an AI Center of Excellence to help more state agencies use AI technologies.

Did you know? The Texas Education Agency is already using an automated scoring engine* to help grade STAAR exam open-ended responses. (*STAAR testimony begins at the 53:20 mark)

One final thought… Texas can be a national and international leader in our AI-driven future. With a thoughtful but adaptable approach to adoption and growth of this emerging technology, AI has the potential to benefit the next generation of Texans, Texas business, and Texas as a state.

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Are you using AI in your daily life?*

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*We asked ChatGPT to create a photo of a vibrant and happy future scene of Texas and AI. This is what we got. It’s not exactly what we were thinking.