Photo by Matthew Schwartz from

New Jersey’s Role in AI Conversation is Lagging Among States

Excerpted from ROI-NJ.

Early political and economic developments in 2024 signaled New Jersey’s commitment to becoming a hub for artificial intelligence research & development. Now, halfway through the year, data from online conversations, Google searches and the activity of state legislatures around the nation shows New Jersey is lagging in growing its role in the overall AI conversation. These insights provide perspective into how New Jersey stakeholders can continue to champion AI, while signaling to residents and businesses around the country the state is open for innovation.

New Jersey’s AI evolution to this point has included, but is not limited to: Princeton University, Rutgers University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology are exploring areas such as machine learning, natural language processing, robotics and data mining, as well as finance and cybersecurity applications. Several major technology companies with a presence in the state are investing heavily in AI, including IBM, Nokia Bell Labs, Samsung and others. Also, the state’s Economic Development Authority has a dedicated guide to prospective companies looking to create “the next big thing” right here in New Jersey.

This is all a great start. More, however, is necessary. The social posts from New Jersey’s state elected officials mentioning “artificial intelligence” shows a lag in the conversation, with only 10 mentions so far this year. Comparatively, this ranks New Jersey 20th in the overall elected official conversation among states. The data also shows regional competition heating up, with state elected officials from New York mentioning “artificial intelligence” 63 times and Pennsylvania officials mentioning it 62 times, ranking them first and second of all states, respectively.

Consumer interest in AI via Google search data is higher, with New Jersey ranking ninth among states. This is consistent with the recent Stockton University Poll that measured “a majority of residents” (56%) have heard a lot about artificial intelligence. However, the search data also showed the regional competition theme persisting, with New York ranking fourth in search interest.

Finally, because the U.S. government has yet to enact comprehensive federal legislation, states have already enacted a variety of rules governing AI, which has created a patchwork of regulations across the country. Many state legislatures have already made progress on issues such as protecting individuals from algorithm discrimination and digital rights violations. States like California, New York and Florida are the frontrunners in state-level AI regulation.

Back in New Jersey, despite the positive momentum of collaboration between government, business and higher education, according to the March Stockton University poll, 36% of New Jersey residents think the increased use of AI will make their lives worse, versus only 25% that think it will make their lives better. Anticipate the New Jersey Legislature to tackle privacy and security issues that many other states are actively working on, which may also help calm resident perceptions of negative impacts captured in the Stockton Poll.

When considered collectively, the combined efforts of academia, industry and state policies will shape New Jersey’s contributions to the rapidly evolving AI landscape. Needed now is more engagement at all levels to educate on the benefits to productivity, learning, language and data processing (to name a few). The AI Hub partnership with Princeton University is a great start. As always, regional competition will be heavy. Residents’ awareness is high, but fears will still linger if efforts are not placed on championing the benefits of the technology for residents and the state. New Jersey truly has the opportunity to ensure AI can benefit everyone. Let’s not fall behind. Let’s keep the momentum going.

About Jonathan:

Jonathan specializes in policy and data-driven public affairs, campaign development and geopolitical risk insights. He analyzes dynamics among the private sector, the regional economy, infrastructure and government policy to advise client strategy. Prior to joining Avoq, Jonathan worked at the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce as an analyst supporting government affairs operations. Before that, he served as an intern in the policy division at the New York City Council, working on issues such as transportation and economic development.

Read Jonathan’s full bio.

Connect with Jonathan on LinkedIn.