State Lawmakers Grapple with AI: Regulation and Questions Abound

JJohn August 5, 2023 8:26 AM

State lawmakers across the US are racing to understand and regulate artificial intelligence (AI). With initiatives to analyze government use of AI and legislative proposals to protect citizens, they aim to keep pace with rapid AI innovation.

State governments as AI proving grounds

Recognizing the rapid pace of AI technology, lawmakers are prioritizing a closer look at how their own state governments are utilizing it. Their aim is to enact effective legislation that ensures responsible use of AI, but they are treading carefully, wanting to avoid stifling innovation in private sectors such as medicine, science, business, and education. In this context, state governments are being viewed as the proving grounds for responsible AI integration.

Connecticut's plan for an AI inventory

Connecticut is leading the way in inventorying all government systems that use AI. The state plans to complete this process by the end of 2023 and will make the information available online. This move is seen as a proactive approach to understanding the extent of AI integration in government systems and will provide a comprehensive overview of AI use within the state's governance.

Nationwide legislative push for AI

Nationwide, the legislative focus on AI is clear. At least 25 states, along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have introduced AI-related bills this year. This underscores the recognition of the significance of AI technology and the urgent need for comprehensive and effective legislation to manage its use responsibly and ethically.

In a significant move, Connecticut has passed legislation requiring regular scrutiny of AI systems used by state agencies to prevent unlawful discrimination. This comes in the wake of a Yale Law School investigation showing that AI is already being used in various government tasks. The new law underlines the need for transparency and accountability for AI systems to ensure they don't inadvertently perpetuate discriminatory practices.

Lag in AI regulation in some states

Despite the nationwide push towards AI legislation, some states are yet to make their move. In Hawaii, for example, lawmakers passed a resolution urging Congress to adopt safety guidelines for AI use but didn't pass any specific legislation governing AI. This underlines that, although the need for AI regulation is widely accepted, there is still a significant amount of uncertainty about the best way to approach the issue.

The range of AI-related bills proposed this year is wide and varied. Some bills narrowly focus on specific issues, such as defining what is considered a person to not include AI (North Dakota), or prohibiting the use of AI in voting machines (Arizona). These proposals highlight the broad impact of AI and the need for legislation to address its diverse applications and potential concerns.

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