4 months ago

Canfield elected chair of Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence, Waggoner vice-chair

The Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Associated Technologies recently held its inaugural meeting, at which commission members elected Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield as chairman and State Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) as vice-chairman.

The commission plans to schedule additional meetings over the next seven months, with all meetings being open to the public.

The members will deliver a report in May to Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Legislature, recommending strategies and policies on how AI and other emerging technologies will be of benefit to the Yellowhammer State’s economy.

In a statement on Thursday, Canfield explained the importance of the commission’s work.

“Artificial intelligence is a powerful, disruptive technology that has the potential to forever change the way we live our lives and how businesses across Alabama operate,” he emphasized.

“It’s critical that we understand how AI will bring about these sweeping changes, and this Commission will help us develop insights into what the future has in store for Alabama’s citizens and businesses,” Canfield concluded.

Waggoner spearheaded the legislative resolution that formed the commission. His leadership has been, and continues to be instrumental, in this process. The powerful chair of the Senate Rules Committee identified the goal of Alabama being on the cutting edge of AI research and job creation in the technology sector.

“We want Alabama to be a leader in AI research, innovation, technology start-ups, and technology jobs,” Waggoner stated. We believe that we are competitive with other states.”

He continued, “The Commission will look at how Alabama is positioned and ready for the opportunities of tomorrow. Those are some of the issues and questions this Commission is going to answer. We will meet with key business groups and different industry sectors to understand the impact of AI and automation on their industries.”

According to Waggoner, the commission will also examine how schools and universities can develop AI-educational programs, and investigate what privacy safeguards might be needed to protect consumers.

“We want Alabama’s education system in a place where we can equip students with AI-relevant skills through engineering and technology classes and apprenticeship programs,” he added. “As we promote innovation and educational readiness, we must also protect the privacy rights of citizens, and examine whether existing state laws are effective in regulating these emerging technologies. There’s a lot of work ahead.”

The commission will be divided up into five sub-committees, focused on the following:

  • state regulations, government oversight, and potential legislative action;
  • education and workforce development;
  • healthcare and medical services;
  • future and evolving industries, economic development, and research;
  • ethics, privacy and security.

The subcommittees will begin their work in mid-October.

State Senator Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) was appointed to the commission by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston). Roberts came away from the body’s initial meeting impressed at the experience and expertise of its membership.

“Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning are very complex subjects. Thankfully, I think we have some of the finest minds in our state working on this project. The sub committees that have been established will allow every person on the commission to hone in on their particular areas of expertise,” Roberts outlined.

The 25 members of the commission are as follows:

Greg Canfield – Secretary of Commerce (chairman)

Marty Redden – Acting secretary of the Alabama Office of Information Technology

Ivey’s appointees:

1. Dr. Hari Narayanan— Auburn

2. Dr. Gerry Dozier— Auburn

3. Dr. Jeff Carver – UA (Tuscaloosa)

4. Dr. Curt Carver – UAB

5. Dr. Alec Yasinac – USA

6. Dr. John Beck – UAH

7. Dr. James Cimino – UAB

8. Melvin Evans – Hand Arendall

9. Jim McLane – NaphCare

10. Jacob Kosoff – Regions Bank

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth’s appointees:

Joshua Jones – StrategyWise

Dr. Vicki Karolewics – Wallace State Community College

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon’s appointees:

Rep. Kirk Hatcher

Rep. Craig Lipscomb

Marsh’ appointees:

Sen. Jabo Waggoner (Vice-chair)

Sen. Dan Roberts

Non-Voting members appointed by the governor:

J. Michael Hardin – Provost & vice president at Samford University

John Brandt – Southern Company

Leonard Tillman – Balch & Bingham

Mike Rowell – Senior VP & CIO at ALFA Insurance

James Mizell – Senior account executive at Microsoft

Jason Asbury – NXTsoft

Dr. Syed Raza – Jefferson State Community College

An Alabama CEO, also a commission member, said artificial intelligence is on the cusp of transforming every industry.

“Artificial intelligence is rapidly changing every industry, and it is incredibly important for us as a state to think strategically about what that means to our economy,” advised Joshua Jones, CEO of Birmingham-based StrategyWise, an AI and data science consulting firm.

He concluded, “I applaud Senator Waggoner and Secretary Canfield for leading Alabama to be one of the first states to really address these opportunities and changing dynamics systematically. It sends a message to the rest of the U.S. that Alabama is serious about investing in our future, and we’re growing our tech-based ecosystem. For companies that want to leverage all that AI has to offer, we’re going to be prepared with a trained workforce, accommodating public policy, and a strong tech infrastructure.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 hours ago

Alabama softball preseason No. 1 in USA Softball Top 25, ranked No. 2 on NFCA and Softball America lists; Auburn rated No. 23 by NFCA, Softball America

As the 2020 season approaches, Alabama softball was highlighted in three separate preseason ranking polls as either number one or number two on the lists, while Auburn also made its way in the top 25 on two of the lists.

Alabama softball is the preseason No. 1 in USA Softball’s rankings and No. 2 in the NFCA and Softball America top 25 lists.

A press release from the Alabama Athletics Communications noted:

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The Crimson Tide earned 12 first-place votes in the USA Softball poll and 11 in the NFCA poll, the most of any team. The preseason rankings are Alabama’s highest in those two polls since the 2013 season. The Tide finished last year ranked No. 4 in all three rankings. Last week, the Tide claimed the top spot in D1Softball’s preseason poll, the inaugural set of rankings for the site.

Defending SEC champion Alabama will receive a total of 13 players from last year’s team that won 60 games, claimed the program’s fifth SEC regular-season title and advanced to the final day of bracket play at the 2019 Women’s College World Series.

The Crimson Tide softball team will open its 2020 season, head coach Patrick Murphy’s 22nd season at the school, at the Joanne Graf Classic in Tallahassee, Florida, on February 7 and 8. They are slated to play two games each against North Carolina and host Florida State.

Auburn’s softball team was rated No. 23 by both NFCA and Softball America, but was left out of USA Softball’s top 25 list.

The Tigers open the season with Baylor in Clearwater, Florida, in the NFCA Leadoff Classic on February 7.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

7 hours ago

‘Scary’: Jeff Sessions fears Trump in danger of physical harm from Deep State

In a radio interview on Tuesday, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressed his worry for President Donald J. Trump’s physical safety.

Featuring on “Alabama’s Morning News with JT” on 105.5 WERC, Sessions with just over two minutes left in the interview was prompted to talk about the subject after the host said he hoped that members of Trump’s Secret Service detail were not a part of the “Deep State” and “The Swamp.”

“[I]f he wins this election again, there’s no telling what people will do to get him out of that office. And I’m talking about physical harm,” Birmingham radio host JT Nysewander said to Sessions. “Do you fear that?”

“Absolutely, it’s a scary thing,” Sessions responded. “There’s so much hostility out there. It is scary, number one.”

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He then referred to his ongoing Republican bid to return to the U.S. Senate in 2020.

“And number two, this is what I believe right now, one reason I feel like that I can contribute in this race if I’m elected to the Senate,” Sessions continued. “They fear Donald Trump. The Republicans, not just what he says and does in the short run, but he has brought together a coalition of over 50% of the American population that if he can solidify that — and the Republicans will get on board, which they haven’t sufficiently, in my opinion, enthusiastically understood the historic importance of the Trump coalition  — that should be the ‘Republican Workers Party.’ People who go to work every day. They need to be brought into this party. … and move this country against the ‘Socialist Left’ that’s radical, that’s for open borders, for [more] government, taxes, regulations of all kinds and try to run the whole world with military power and trade that doesn’t protect our interests. So those things, I think, the American people are behind [Trump]. The president historically is leading it. And I want to push the Republicans to get on board more enthusiastically with it.”

“I was there first, and I’m still there,” Sessions concluded.

Sessions’ campaign on Monday released internal polling showing him with a sizable lead in Alabama’s March 3 GOP Senate primary. The ultimate Republican nominee will face Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 hours ago

Poll: Doug Jones reelection chances take hit if he votes to remove Trump

According to polling data provided to Yellowhammer News, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) could be in a weaker position for reelection should he vote to convict and remove President Donald Trump in the U.S. Senate’s impeachment trial currently underway.

The survey, conducted by WPA Intelligence on behalf of Club for Growth PAC of 500 likely voters, found that nearly two-in-five Alabama voters say they would be less likely to reelect Doug Jones if he votes to remove President Trump.

That is compared to just 14% who say they would be more likely to reelect Jones if he votes to remove.

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(WPAi/Club for Growth PAC)

Overall, the survey showed a lack of support for impeachment among Alabama voters. One-third of Alabama voters support the Senate removing President Trump from office compared to an overwhelming two-thirds who say they oppose his removal.

(WPAi/Club for Growth PAC)

The poll also found an overwhelming number of Alabama voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president, by a margin of 61% to 37%, approve versus disapprove.

(WPAi/Club for Growth PAC)

As one might expect, in hypothetical general election match-ups against two of the Democratic presidential front-runners, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Trump dominates by a 20-point-plus margin.

(WPAi/Club for Growth PAC)

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

8 hours ago

Alexander Shunnarah wins national Golden Gavel Award

Birmingham-based Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. in recent days won a coveted Golden Gavel Award at the 2020 National Trial Lawyers Summit.

The summit was held last week in Miami, FL.

Alexander Shunnarah was the only law firm from Alabama selected in any of the Golden Gavel Awards categories and represented the state at the prestigious national ceremony. The awards celebrate the top legal advertisements of the year and Alexander Shunnarah, arguably the most recognized personal injury law firm in the state, competed in categories covering both traditional and digital media.

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The firm came away as the winner of the best public relations campaign Golden Gavel Award. Alexander Shunnarah was also a finalist in five of the other 11 award categories.

In a recent statement celebrating being named a finalist in the six total categories, Shunnarah himself said, “I am extremely proud to be recognized as a finalist in half of the categories for the National Trial Lawyers’ Golden Gavel awards.”

“This honor is a testament to our diverse and creative portfolio of marketing, advertising and public relations efforts. We work diligently every day on our brand and this national recognition further solidifies our place as a legal marketing force,” he concluded.

The National Trial Lawyers is headquartered in Dothan.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 hours ago

Doug Jones: Abuse of power ‘should be’ impeachable

In his latest thoughts about President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) spoke about arguments made by Trump legal team members.

Appearing in a video released Tuesday afternoon that lasted just over six minutes, Jones spoke about some of the core points made by Alan Dershowitz and Pam Bondi Monday afternoon and evening.

One of the most striking remarks in the video came towards the end, when Jones declared, “I am not persuaded at all that the abuse of power is an unimpeachable offense. I think it can be, I think it should be [impeachable].”

Trump is charged by the U.S. House of Representatives with abuse of power on the first impeachment article against him, as well as a second charge of obstruction of justice.

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Jones started off the latest video by criticizing Ken Starr, who is best known as the independent counsel that investigated then-President Bill Clinton. Starr spoke out in the Senate against impeaching Trump on Monday.

Alabama’s junior senator subsequently chastised Trump’s legal team for accusing House impeachment managers of utilizing “distractions.”

“[Trump’s legal team] continue to push distractions,” Jones asserted.

“[T]hey talk about, of course, Hunter Biden — the biggest distraction of all,” he added.

The senator, who has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, lamented that Republicans did not start scrutinizing Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings until his father’s current campaign kicked off.

“We spent most of yesterday talking about distractions,” Jones further said.

He also reiterated that he has “some concerns” about the obstruction of justice impeachment charge against the president.

“I do think that there were serious issues raised yesterday that we’re trying to work through,” Jones advised. “I’m anxious to hear how House managers are going to respond to some of the issues that were raised by the president’s lawyers when it comes to article two, obstruction of justice.”

Watch: 

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn