AI Hotspots In The US: Where Does Your State Rank?

Written By Walter Yuhl on April 24, 2024
playmichigan choropleth map on blue background with text that says Americas AI Hubs

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is a technology that allows computers to simulate human intelligence and problem-solving capabilities. It is no longer the realm of science fiction.

AI’s uses are unlimited. Some commonly used today include:

  • Administrative tasks
  • Content creation
  • Analysis
  • Personalized learning
  • Quality control

AI is the future of things to come, so which states are on the AI forefront, and which states are lagging?

We’ve compiled a list of the top five states leading the AI pack and the bottom five that have some catching up to do.

Key takeaways

  • Unsurprisingly, California is embracing AI with many major tech firms headquartered there and a significant investment in AI from the state’s universities.
  • Massachusetts and New York are both investing in creating AI hubs to attract AI companies and be the leader in educating the AI workforce.
  • Washington and Texas round out the top five states thanks to the governors of both states committing resources to develop and ensure responsible and ethical AI use.
  • South Dakota has put forth the least amount of legislative actions around AI, securing its spot at the bottom of the AI readiness list.
  • North Dakota and South Carolina primarily because there seems to be little public search interest around AI and very few AI-related job openings.

Playmichigan top AI states of 2024 choropleth map scored 1 as the best and 50 as the worst

Top 5 states leading in AI readiness

PlayMichigan list of top artificial intelligence states graphic.

To develop the rankings, we started with a list of states that had passed or had pending AI legislation. We then looked at Google search terms for general AI information and used data on the number of AI jobs posted in each state. Then, we identified states with AI education policies. See our methodology below.

California

California is a trendsetter in public policy. Other states often look to California to see what’s working and what’s not working as they look to adopt policies for themselves, so it’s no surprise that CA tops the list.

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed an executive order that affects AI’s impact on communities and risks, focusing on privacy, racial and gender bias, and equality.

California also leads the US in the total number of universities, many of which are involved with AI development and research. The University of Southern California recently earmarked over $1 billion for AI research and development. California is also a hub for AI innovation companies. Of Forbes’ top 50 AI companies, virtually all have headquarters in CA, including:

  • Open AI
  • MidJourney
  • Neeva

Massachusetts

Massachusetts aims to be a global leader in Applied AI, which is the practical application of AI in a real-world setting.

Governor Maura Healey signed an executive order establishing the Artificial Intelligence Strategic Task Force. The group advises public and private entities how to implement AI. The governor is also asking for $100 million to create an ‘Applied AI Hub’ to attract AI companies and encourage AI use in the state.

Another program, ‘InnovateMA,’ partners government entities with Northeastern University. Northeastern students are already working with the state to implement AI.

New York

New York has committed over $400 million to create ‘Empire AI’. This state-of-the-art artificial intelligence computing center in upstate New York will bring together seven of New York’s top universities to research AI focused on the public good.

Governor Kathy Hochul has established a policy for responsible AI use. She has also directed the Office of Information Technology Services to develop guidelines for state agencies to evaluate and use AI systems.

Washington State

While Washington technically ties with NY, it does not have a formal education policy so we ranked it below NY. However, it has a progressive culture, an educated populace, and, of course, is home to Microsoft.

Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee issued an executive order to develop responsible and ethical AI use guidelines. Legislative bills are in process for informing employees and customers about AI use, developing a task force for AI regulation, and preventing discrimination.

Seattle is a center for AI startups and is just 20 minutes from the Microsoft campus. The city already uses AI to improve traffic flow and reduce carbon emissions, although how they do that isn’t specified.

Texas

In June 2023, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council bill. The bill sets up a committee to study and monitor AI in state agencies. Already, more than a third of Texas’s government agencies are using AI. This includes high-profile areas such as law enforcement and infrastructure.

Texas is home to multiple top universities, including the University of Texas at Austin. The university is a global leader in AI and has been for over 50 years. Austin is rapidly becoming known as  ‘Silicon Hills’ and leading the way in AI for Texas.

AI Readiness: 5 states missing the mark

PlayMichigan list of worst artificial intelligence states graphic.On the other end of the scale were the states with the lowest average scores in the four categories. These states are either not interested in AI or simply not prioritizing it by the metrics we used to conduct this survey.

Wyoming

Wyoming scored the lowest in every category, bottoming out with the lowest scores in legislative actions and job postings. Wyoming residents were second to last in AI interest measured by search queries.

West Virginia

West Virginia is one of only four states with a state-wide AI education policy. The state legislature has also worked on some AI measures, indicating that the government is paying attention to AI. However, WV bottomed out on search queries and job postings sending a clear signal that its citizens are not on the AI bandwagon.

Mississippi

Mississippians had the least interest in AI, coming in 50 out of 50 in search queries. While MS did have some legislative action, it was minimal. Job postings were also low.

South Dakota

South Dakota was in the lowest category for legislative actions. With no education policy and low interest in AI, and few job postings, SD came in close to the bottom.

North Dakota and South Carolina

These two states have the dubious honor of sharing the bottom spot on the AI readiness list. While ND had a moderate amount of legislative actions and SC had none, ND had fewer AI job positions. On the other hand, SC has far fewer people searching for information about AI.

Setting the standards: How we use AI

Every state needs AI standards. Santa Cruz County’s district supervisor Zach Friend, who assisted with the standards adopted by the county, recommends looking to governments that have had success with AI regulation and using their guidelines as a model.

Governments need to be “operating from an understanding that your employees are already using it, your community’s already using it…and it’s only going to become more prevalent,” said Friend.

Boston’s CIO, Santiago Garces, said:

“Ultimately, how and when the output of these tools gets used is the responsibility of people that have been trusted by the public to be stewards of the public good.”  

To help move policy forward, President Biden recently signed an executive order that set standards on security and privacy regarding AI. The guidelines are broad. This leaves states and municipalities to develop specific policies.

States using AI for the common good

This is exactly what is happening. Santa Cruz County, CA has instituted a regulatory framework for AI. It focuses on general values to be used with AI. The idea is to foster the use of AI in a way that protects the public rather than banning the tools.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu wanted to embrace AI while protecting the public. She has introduced regulations that allow the use of AI with human oversight.

Even small cities are embracing the power of AI for simple, repeatable tasks. The City of Wentzville, MO, population 60,000, uses AI for tasks such as producing drafts for automated responses. Wentzville also uses AI along with close human oversight. Wentzville’s strategy is to maintain the city’s messaging and tone in communication.

Before the standards, employees used existing guidelines, such as the ethics policy. However, existing guidelines were developed before the use of AI. AI is different as it requires its own guidelines.

Methodology

To compile this list and rankings, we looked at four sources of information:

  1. States that had passed or had pending AI legislation
  2. States with an AI education policy
  3. Google queries for general AI terms
  4. Queries of job postings for AI positions

Each state was given a ranking, 1–11, based on the number of AI bills passed or pending. States with the most number of bills passed or pending were ranked highest. New York with the most legislation, is ranked 1. States with no or failed legislation received an 11.

The state with the most AI search queries was ranked 1 and the least 50. The same system was used for job postings. States with a state-wide education policy were given a null value, and states without an education policy were given a 1 value.

Some states were not represented in all data sets. These states were omitted.

  1. Colorado
  2. Delaware
  3. Missouri
  4. Ohio
  5. Oregon
  6. Virginia

Sources

AI in Healthcare

Digital Information World

Forbes

Government Technology

IBM

Metro Atlanta CEO

National Conference of State Legislatures

New Jersey Business Magazine

Simplilearn

The Ascent

The Council of State Governments

Visual Capitalist

Verbit AI

WiseVoter

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The complete state-by-state AI analysis and rankings

For the raw data and calculations, email [email protected]

StateLegislationAI SearchesAI JobsEducation policyAverage
California23101.5
Massachusetts34413
New York19313.5
Washington72503.5
Texas818217.3
New Jersey6131218
Illinois324718.8
Utah912819.8
Connecticut962319.8
Maryland91517110.5
Michigan72510110.8
Georgia7269110.8
North Carolina52911011.3
Minnesota82018111.8
Arizona92215111.8
Pennsylvania33014112
Nevada101029112.5
Florida102121113.3
Rhode Island41439114.5
Vermont9845115.8
New Hampshire111240116
Wisconsin73524116.8
Hawaii81941117.3
Kansas113226117.5
Tennessee114119118
Indiana113131118.5
Alaska111847119.3
Idaho113530119.3
Oklahoma113731120
Arkansas104327120.3
Iowa113832120.5
Nebraska113436120.5
Montana112349121
Maine83343121.3
Alabama114825121.3
Kentucky114035121.8
Louisiana104534022.3
New Mexico94238122.5
North Dakota83646122.8
South Carolina114633122.8
South Dakota114444125
Mississippi95042125.5
West Virginia94748026
Wyoming114950127.8
Photo by PlayMichigan
Walter Yuhl Avatar
Written by
Walter Yuhl

Walter (Way) Yuhl is a freelance writer and business professor. Way has written for the Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff Business News, Bangkok University, and Shandong University of Science and Technology as well as edited content for the U.N., Thailand International airports, and other organizations. He has worked with Cantena Media since 2019.

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