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Lawmakers on state and federal level consider adding regulations around AI

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Posted at 5:57 PM, Jun 21, 2023

DENVER — More and more, artificial intelligence is becoming part of our everyday lives, from cars to social media to finance. The more the technology develops, the more integrated it becomes.

“Our hardware now is kind of caught up with the abilities and so now anybody can access then what was once sort of an esoteric, academic sort of thing,” said Steve Beaty, a professor of computer science at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Systems like ChatGPT now make it so that everyone has access to the technology to have conversations, write papers and more.

With all this innovation, state and federal lawmakers are now openly wondering what their role is in regulating the technology.

“We need to have the conversation as to what we believe artificial intelligence, machine learning, chatbots, ChatGPT, those sorts of things, how they should be as part of our society,” Beaty said.

On a federal level, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced his intentions Wednesday to establish nine that will consider the potential of AI and the risks. The panel will look at everything from protecting national security to promoting innovation.

Lawmakers will then use those discussions to create legislation around the technology.

While Schumer unveiled his proposal, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet took to the U.S. House floor Wednesday to deliver his own address on the topic. In it, it unveiled a new Digital Platform Commission Act, calling for Congress to create a federal agency dedicated to AI.

No matter what body ultimately ends up regulating the technology, the bigger question is whether the laws will be able to keep up with the innovation.

“Can federal regulations actually address how this incredibly complex technology? I would argue that when radio cars and all these other sorts of things came out, most people didn't understand the technology, and we still regulated those.

There’s also a balancing act to consider. Lawmakers will need to walk a fine line between reigning in the power of the tech but also keeping the U.S. competitive and not stifling innovation.

On the state level, Colorado has already taken some small steps to put guardrails around the technology’s use like passing SB21-169. The law prohibits insurance companies from using certain datasets like a person’s race or gender to determine their insurance rates.

Draft rules by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Division of Insurance would also add guardrails around the use of AI software and predictive models that use nontraditional factors like a person’s shopping habits, credit score, education or court records to determine risk factors and set those insurance rates.

Lawmakers on state and federal level consider adding regulations around AI

“Every day people need to realize that there are decisions being made that might not be made with any type of thoughtfulness. It's just a 1,1,0,1,0,1,0,” said Sen. Robert Rodriguez, D-Denver.

Rodriguez served on the state legislative committee that worked on the bill and says it’s just the beginning. He’s also starting the stakeholder work to write more bills to address the topic.

“I think the best way to do this obviously is looking at a multi-state approach with similar policy wording languages to keep the industry workable, but yet understand that we're trying to come to a goal of just making sure that people using this technology as it becomes easier to use are responsible,” Rodriguez said.

He too insists that the goal should not be to overly regulate the technology but to try to understand how it is being used and the decision-making process behind it. He also believes there should be transparency and accountability on the part of the creators and users of the technology.

Artificial intelligence is becoming more integrated into our lives each day. State and federal lawmakers say it’s time to start seriously considering adding guardrails around it. The question now is what those guardrails should be and how will they be enforced.

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