State Lawmakers Ask Questions as Artificial Intelligence Gains Attention

As state lawmakers rush to understand the rapidly advancing technology of artificial intelligence (AI), their focus is primarily on their own state governments before imposing restrictions on the private sector.

Legislators aim to protect constituents from discrimination and other harms while still encouraging advancements in medicine, science, business, education, and other fields.

Connecticut state Sen. James Maroney said that they are starting with the government to set a good example. Connecticut plans to inventory all government systems that use AI and ensure they do not lead to unlawful discrimination. Maroney, along with lawmakers from other states, plans to work on model AI legislation that includes safeguards and impact assessments.

At least 25 states and the District of Columbia have introduced AI bills, with 14 states and Puerto Rico already adopting resolutions or laws. However, specific AI technologies like facial recognition and autonomous cars are being addressed separately.

Some states have formed advisory bodies or committees to study and monitor AI systems used by state agencies, while others focus on gathering data about AI usage across their own borders.

Connecticut’s new law requires regular scrutiny of AI systems used by state agencies to prevent unlawful discrimination. The law was enacted after an investigation revealed widespread, unchecked AI use in the state government.

Lawmakers hope that the federal government will take the lead in regulating AI, but states are taking action due to the slow pace at the federal level.

Some state-level bills are narrowly focused on specific AI-related concerns, such as limitations on mental health providers using AI or restrictions on employers using AI for automated employment decisions.

The discussion surrounding AI is ongoing, and lawmakers are striving to strike the right balance between protecting constituents and fostering technological advancements.

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