8 months ago

Waggoner helping Alabama lead on artificial intelligence growth

State Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills), the powerful chair of the Senate Rules Committee, is at the forefront of a concerted effort to make Alabama a leader in the emerging field of artificial intelligence (AI).

In the 2019 regular session that concluded last week, the Alabama legislature unanimously passed Waggoner’s Senate Joint Resolution 71, which would create the Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Associated Technologies.

Now, Governor Kay Ivey has approved Waggoner’s measure, giving the Yellowhammer State one of the first AI, state-focused commissions of its kind in the nation.

“In a few short years, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies will transform business, create new jobs and grow our economy,” Waggoner said in a statement. “Realizing the full potential and opportunities of AI and related technologies for Alabama requires the combined efforts of our state and local governments, industry, and institutions of higher education.”

The newly created commission will advise Ivey and the legislature on the growth of AI technologies in Alabama and make recommendations on policy and advancing the prowess of the state’s technology sector.

This comes after recent studies have identified opportunities and challenges for Alabama’s technology sector.

For example, Waggoner pointed out that the Bloomberg 2019 U.S. Innovation Index ranked Alabama at 46 of 50 states. The Bloomberg Index is based on several key metrics, including the number of technology companies in a state.

However, a recent Cyberstates study noted that Alabama increased the number of job postings related to AI and other technologies by 57 percent in 2018.

“The outlook for expanding Alabama’s technology industry remains very positive. The Commission on AI will be a focal point to promote this continued growth,” Waggoner advised.

“We have to have a discussion on building an AI-ready workforce and formulate policies to continue the transformative technologies of AI in a responsible way,” he added. “The timing to convene a commission on AI couldn’t be better.”

Another revolutionary technology measure passed by the legislature this session was the Alabama Incentives Modernization (AIM) Act.

This bill, signed into law by Ivey on Thursday, provides an update to Alabama’s incentive law, providing attractive incentives to recruit out-of-state tech companies to the Yellowhammer State. The incentive legislation states, “Alabama must also prepare for the future by attracting and retaining high-tech companies, and preparing and retaining a workforce trained for such jobs.”

“The Alabama Commission on AI complements the technology incentives contained in the newly passed incentive modernization legislation. Together, these two measures give Alabama competitive leverage, and show that we are serious about building a vibrant technology sector,” Waggoner commented.

“The Commission on AI will play an important role in charting a bold course and showing the nation that we are ready for the technology jobs of the present and the future,” he concluded.

Summary of the Alabama Commission on AI as follows:

  • Mission — Advise the Governor and Legislature on all aspects of the growth of artificial intelligence and associated technology and its impact on various sectors in Alabama such as health care, manufacturing, and workforce development.
  • Membership — The 18-member Commission will be constituted as follows: ten members appointed by the Governor; the Secretary of Commerce (or designee); the Secretary of Information Technology (or designee); two members appointed by Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth; two members of the House of Representatives, appointed by Speaker Mac McCutcheon; and two members of the Alabama Senate, appointed by Senate President Del Marsh.
  • Appointees must have professional qualifications in AI, workforce development, technology, or computer science.
  • Governor Ivey shall call the Commission’s first meeting, and then the Commission will elect a chair and vice chair.
  • The Commission is charged with releasing a public report on its findings and recommendations by May 2020.

Fred McCallum, interim president and CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance, recently wrote in support of Waggoner’s proposal.

“I am writing to express my support for the establishment of the Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence and Associated Technologies,” McCallum outlined. “Recent passage of the Alabama Modernization Incentives Act will create an attractive technology ecosystem in the state that boosts entrepreneurship, attracts venture capital, and increases the growth of small businesses such as start-ups.”

He continued, “In the Birmingham region, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Southern Research, and Innovation Depot serve as anchors for a thriving innovation and technology scene. The need to ensure that Alabama has skilled workers in this field is greater than ever, and the AI Commission will serve as a complement to these efforts. On behalf of the BBA, I thank you, Senator Waggoner, for your leadership and vision to ensure that Alabama will continue to grow and develop as a technology hub.”

Birmingham has recently been named as a growing tech hub by multiple national publications, including Forbes and Barron’s.

Last year, Huntsville was named as the nation’s best “new tech hub.”

Montgomery, with public-private collaborations with the Air Force, and Mobile have also put recent emphasis on growing tech sectors.

Prominent officials like Waggoner and Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) hope the Alabama Modernization Incentives Act will provide added competitiveness to these urban anchors while helping rural areas across the state join in on tech growth moving forward.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

10 hours ago

Alabama voting rights activist jailed on drug charges while on bond for capital murder charge

An Alabama activist is jailed on assault and other charges.

Records show 54-year-old Kenneth Glasgow was being held without bond at the Houston County Jail on Tuesday.

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He was arrested Saturday on charges including drug possession, assault and evidence tampering.

Police tell news outlets that Glasgow struggled with an officer who tried to arrest him after finding crack inside his pocket.

Glasgow has worked for years to register prisoners to vote inside Alabama jails and prisons.

He was charged with capital murder in 2018 after a fatal shooting but was out on bond.

He’s the half-brother of nationally known activist Al Sharpton.

 (Associated Press, copyright 2019)

RELATED: Al Sharpton’s half-brother, already facing Alabama capital murder charges, arrested again

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11 hours ago

Hurts: Time back in Alabama going ‘really well’ — ‘Love’ for Bama will ‘never go away’

MOBILE — The Senior Bowl Week Media Day was held on Tuesday at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center, and former University of Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts had droves of reporters on hand hoping to capture yet another classic Hurts press conference. The humble Hurts did not disappoint.

To kick off his remarks, Hurts commented once again on being back in the Yellowhammer State. He, of course, played at Oklahoma this past season as a graduate transfer from Tuscaloosa. Hurts finished as the runner-up in the 2019 Heisman Trophy voting.

“I think being here and being back in this state is [going] really well. I’m having this opportunity to play in this game and showcase my abilities and show what I’m made of. I’m thankful for it, I’m appreciative of it. And I’m ready to attack it,” Hurts said.

Asked on a follow-up question to compare the Alabama and Oklahoma fanbases, he responded, “I have a lot of respect for both universities. Both have rich tradition, history. I appreciate all the support.”

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The quarterback would later say both programs have “great coaches.”

RELATED: Hurts on Saban: ‘We always had a love for each other … our relationship will never die’

Of the universities, Hurts added, “The appreciation I have for them both, the love I have for them both, it’ll never go away. The way that they’ve accepted me, both schools, not many people can say that they’ve experienced that or they have that … so I’m thankful for it.”

Hurts said that during Senior Bowl Week and in the game on Saturday, he simply wants to “be the best version of” himself. He listed executing, learning and being a “student of the game” as priorities.

The former Tide star was also asked if he has had the opportunity to visit with the outgoing Bama players at the Senior Bowl, his former teammates Jared Mayden, Terrell Lewis, Raekwon Davis and Anfernee Jennings.

“Yes, sir,” Hurts answered. “It’s been well [sic]. Great seeing them. Good to be out there on the practice field with them again. I think they have the same approach I have in terms of maximizing this opportunity.”

RELATED: Bama’s Jared Mayden glad to be reunited with ‘natural leader’ Jalen Hurts for Senior Bowl

Hurts later quipped that he plays with “a boulder” on his shoulder rather than merely “a chip.”

Asked about the reception he expected back in the state of Alabama and what it has been like so far, Hurts commented, “It’s been pretty hectic so far — in a good way. Just being back here, a lot of love. I’m appreciative of it all.”

“I get on the elevator, one of the workers at the hotel we’re staying at — she let me have it in terms of just screaming,” he continued with a smile. “‘Jalen Hurts is really on my elevator,’ just stuff like that. That’s special to me, and I know it won’t be like that forever. I’m just soaking it all in.”

You can watch Hurts’ full interview below:

Media Day followed the Senior Bowl Week introductory press conference that was held Monday evening.

RELATED: Senior Bowl Week kicks off in Mobile as director praises ‘beloved’ Jalen Hurts — ‘He’s come so far’

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

Byrne: Impeachment is nothing to smile about

For three years now, the American people have been forced to endure the efforts by Democrats and the liberal mainstream media to impeach President Trump and remove him from office in the face of his clear electoral victory in 2016. They have tried everything, from a needless special prosecutor investigation, which resulted in nothing, to an Adam Schiff-coached whistleblower who admitted he had no firsthand information and relied on news articles by that same liberal media.

The farce produced just two articles of impeachment, neither of which alleges “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors” as required by the Constitution. An unprecedented and totally partisan process in the House produced nothing that Democrats could even allege is impeachable.

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Then Nancy Pelosi, after insisting for weeks that impeachment couldn’t wait and had to be done by Christmas, held onto the articles, refusing to send them to the Senate as is required. This prolonged the spotlight on her, as the ever-worshipful liberal media gushed over her political brilliance, ignoring the inconvenient fact that her strategy of forcing the Senate to adopt her preferred process for the trial completely failed.

The Constitution is clear. While the House has “the sole Power of Impeachments,” the Senate has “the sole Power to try Impeachments.” And the Constitution clearly states that each house of Congress sets its own rules. Pelosi had no right or power to dictate trial rules to the Senate. Her behavior was unconstitutional and brought embarrassment and dishonor on the House. So, I filed a resolution censoring the speaker for her inappropriate behavior.

Finally, last week as Democrats began to abandon Pelosi’s position, she relented, and the House appointed seven “managers” to present the House’s articles and “case” to the Senate. Led by Schiff, who literally made-up words for the transcript of President Trump’s call to the President of Ukraine in his first day of impeachment “hearings,” and by the bumbling and incompetent Jerry Nadler, the House managers will finally have to behave according to the rules of a truly fair process, presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the competent John Roberts, who will tolerate none of the misbehavior the Democrats repeatedly engaged in as this mess moved through the House.

Pelosi couldn’t stand to lose her spotlight, and, in one last shameful act, had a “signing ceremony” where she and other Democrats smiled and laughed as she pronounced President Trump “impeached forever” and handed out pens. Even some of her adoring fans in the liberal media said she went too far.

What now? The Senate will meet every day except for Sundays beginning at 1:00 p.m. Every senator must attend. They cannot talk or bring electronic devices. They will initially hear the House managers’ “case” for the articles of impeachment, and then the president’s lawyers will finally be allowed to present his case. Be prepared for the House managers to be longwinded and ineffective. Be prepared for the president’s team to be briefer and speak clearly to the essential points of weakness in the articles. Then senators will be allowed to ask questions through Chief Justice Roberts.

What happens next is unclear. Will the Senate dismiss the articles? Will they acquit the president? Will they unnecessarily delay things further by calling witnesses? We don’t know.

But, we do know that not a single Republican voted for these articles in the House and even a few Democrats voted against them. One Democrat changed parties over the vote. We also know there are not nearly enough senators to meet the two-thirds threshold to remove President Trump from office. And we know this will have all been a complete waste of time.

This fall, in the general election, the American people will finally have their say, as the framers of our Constitution intended. I predict Pelosi, Schiff and Nadler won’t be smiling.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.

12 hours ago

Watch: Jessica Taylor touts ‘humble roots’, takes aim at ‘The Squad’ in first TV ad

Jessica Taylor, an attorney in Prattville seeking the Republican nomination for Alabama’s second congressional district, released her first television advertisement on Tuesday.

The ad, which is titled “My Squad,” is mostly composed of footage and soundbites from Taylor’s viral announcement video that garnered national attention.

The video begins by touting Taylor’s “humble roots,” and the candidate goes on to say she wants “to protect life, the Second Amendment, our borders and President Trump from socialists in the swamp”

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Taylor’s competitors in the March 3 Republican Primary will be former Alabama Attorney General Troy King, former State Representative Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) and Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman.

According to Taylor’s campaign, the spot “will air on broadcast and cable over the next two weeks in the Montgomery media market beginning this Wednesday.”

Predictably in an ad titled “My Squad,” the spot makes references to “The Squad” while displaying images of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

The Squad” is a group of four U.S. Representatives that are new to Congress, female and represent the furthest left wing of the Democratic Party. Cortez and Omar are two members of “The Squad” that have generated particular ire among Republican primary voters.

As a response to “The Squad,” Taylor led the effort to create the “Conservative squad,” which is composed of four female conservative Republicans currently seeking election to the House.

In a statement sent to reporters that accompanied the ad, Taylor said one of her goals in Congress would be to “fight back against radical socialists like AOC and Ilhan Omar.”

The spot also continues to use the language and iconography of basketball, which Taylor grew up playing.

“Alabama, put me in the game!” proclaims Taylor to conclude.

Watch:

14 hours ago

Bama’s Jared Mayden glad to be reunited with ‘natural leader’ Jalen Hurts for Senior Bowl

MOBILE — Reunited and it feels so good. That was the sentiment expressed by one of Jalen Hurts’ former University of Alabama Crimson Tide teammates during the Senior Bowl Week Media Day on Tuesday.

Hurts, of course, played for the Oklahoma Sooners this past season as a graduate transfer from Alabama. He finished as the runner-up in the 2019 Heisman Trophy voting.

He will play for the South Team during Saturday’s Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, as will the Tide’s Jared Mayden, Terrell Lewis, Raekwon Davis and Anfernee Jennings.

As captured by Yellowhammer News, Mayden spoke with reporters during Media Day about how it feels being on the same field — and the same team — as Hurts once again.

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“It means a lot,” Mayden stressed. “Especially since he’s on my team [as opposed to playing against him on the North Team]. I’m glad he’s on my team because Jalen’s a leader, a natural leader. He doesn’t have to try too hard. It just seems like it comes natural to him. I know he’ll probably have some things to say that’ll get everybody ready to play. He did it at Bama; I expect no less from him [now]. So I’m excited to get the opportunity to play with him again.”

If you missed Yellowhammer’s coverage of the start of Senior Bowl Week, read more here.

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