San Jose mayor doubles down on AI tech push, eyes SJSU innovation lab

Can AI help fix potholes and water leaks?

SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan expanded his fledgling initiative to spur the growth of artificial intelligence hubs in the Bay Area’s largest city this week, unveiling new plans for cutting-edge AI endeavors.

Mayor Mahan delivered the keynote address at the new Adobe Systems Founders Tower in downtown San Jose, kicking off the 2023 San Jose Global Innovation Summit.

While many American cities vie for the title of “AI capital,” Mahan believes San Jose can take a large slice of this cutting-edge technology pie.

“We certainly want San Jose to be a capital in AI innovation,” Mahan said at the innovation summit on Thursday.

On Oct. 10, Mahan and Councilmember David Cohen issued a memo in which the two political leaders hoped to lay out a strategy for attracting artificial intelligence hubs to San Jose.

The plans include utility cost reductions as well as a streamlined permitting process for AI firms, incubators, and initiatives.

“We are having discussions to bring incubators and accelerators into our downtown to take advantage of the fact that we have 36,000 students at San Jose State and the technical talent there,” Mahan said in a statement.

The mayor also stated that San Jose State University may play an important role in raising the city’s profile for artificial intelligence and technology in general.

“One thing we are talking to San Jose State about is to actually build an innovation lab on campus,” Mahan said in a statement. “This would enable students to begin to experiment, and prototype and test in a safe and cost-effective way, new concepts for companies while they are still students.”

Gary Dillabough, a real estate executive and tech entrepreneur, is also working to establish an artificial intelligence incubator in downtown San Jose.

“We are talking with a potential partner about bringing 40 or 50 AI startups to downtown San Jose,” Dillabough said in September during a discussion about how to stimulate economic activity in the city’s urban core.

These early efforts have the potential to strengthen the city’s urban core. Dillabough told this news organization on Thursday that the mayor’s efforts have encouraged him.

“Our hope is to create an extraordinary AI Center of Excellence,” Dillabough stated. “I don’t think there is a better place in the U.S. to make this happen.”

Dillabough believes it makes sense for city leaders, business leaders, and tech executives to collaborate in various ways to bring tech and AI incubators to downtown San Jose.

“When the private sector starts to get into lockstep with the public sector, it can unleash some very powerful opportunities,” he said.

The mayor is also considering some practical AI applications for San Jose. For example, advanced technologies could assist the city in combating potholes and water leaks.

During his keynote speech, he mentioned that some tech companies want to collaborate with the city to add cameras to city vehicles. Data from cameras could be captured by tech systems and artificial intelligence to determine the location of potholes and water leaks.

“We want to be looking at what’s next,” Mahan said. “What will be disruptive?” What will bring about change? This is why we are considering incentives and collaborating with our local university. We want to be the location where it occurs.”

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