New Jersey to Establish AI Hub to Fuel Research, Development, and Workforce Training

As US states race to take advantage of the generative AI boom, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Princeton University president Christopher Eisgruber announced plans today to establish a new AI hub that will bring together AI researchers, industry leaders, and startups, in collaboration with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA).

Advancing Research, Development, and Ethical AI

In an exclusive interview with VentureBeat, Governor Murphy and President Eisgruber discussed the initiative, which aims to advance research and development, provide dedicated accelerator space, promote the use of ethical AI, and facilitate workforce development. This includes AI skills training for over 61,000 state employees.

“It’s probably the most exciting project that I’m aware of on the state side since I’ve been governor,”

– Governor Phil Murphy

When asked about the project’s ability to keep up with the pace of AI developments, Governor Murphy expressed confidence, stating that the visibility of the hub and its activities would attract participants. He likened it to the quote from the movie “Field of Dreams,” saying, “the way we’re doing this is to shine a light on the fact that we’re doing it — it’s sort of a Kevin Costner ‘if you build it, they will come.'”

New Jersey’s Three-Pronged Approach

The establishment of the AI hub follows the launch of New Jersey’s State Artificial Intelligence Task Force in October and the state’s policy promoting responsible AI use by state employees in November. Governor Murphy referred to this as a “three-legged stool” approach, encompassing economic development, regulatory responsibility, and the training of the state workforce to improve government service delivery to residents.

“Princeton University was already starting to invest here and this will help us to invest even more aggressively around this,”

– President Christopher Eisgruber

President Eisgruber expressed that the AI hub is a pivotal moment to propel New Jersey forward as a leader in AI jobs and research. He mentioned Princeton University’s existing investments in the area, such as the Language and Intelligence Initiative (PLI) focused on large language models. Sanjeev Arora, a renowned professor of computer science and machine learning, was appointed as the director of the initiative.

Princeton University has a longstanding history in AI research, counting influential figures like Alan Turing and Fei-Fei Li among its alumni and faculty. The AI hub is expected to expand on these foundations and establish New Jersey as a recognized leader in the field.

“This is a front burner for us…we expect to be pushing the accelerator.”

– President Christopher Eisgruber

The current AI boom is concentrated in regions like the San Francisco Bay Area, according to a Brookings 2021 analysis. To understand why, Governor Murphy had conversations with AI industry leaders who highlighted the importance of talent. Recognizing New Jersey’s abundance of talent, especially in the STEM space and with Princeton as a leading institution, he became inspired to pursue the vision of establishing New Jersey as the East Coast AI hub.

“…not one person said you’re off base — whether or not we can actually execute on all this, time will tell. But we start with the raw material that I think no other state, no other university, really brings to the table.”

– Governor Phil Murphy

Collaborating for Greater Impact

Princeton University, known for its public-private AI partnerships like the Google AI Lab, is eager to collaborate with the broader economy of New Jersey, particularly in industries like healthcare and pharmaceuticals. President Eisgruber emphasized the opportunity for the AI hub to foster collaboration with the regional ecosystem and drive innovation.

Governor Murphy stressed that while the plans for the hub may evolve, time is of the essence in the fast-paced world of AI. He expressed the intention to act swiftly, stating, “I don’t think we’re going to let a lot of grass grow given the pace of development here.”

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