Kentucky lawmakers hear how other states are regulating, using artificial intelligence

Republished from Kentucky Lantern

Kentucky lawmakers on the General Assembly’s Artificial Intelligence Task Force learned Tuesday about how states are using artificial intelligence and possible legal frameworks for the technology.

During the task force’s first meeting, lawmakers heard presentations from technology and government experts about the history of artificial intelligence (AI), ways state governments use it and legislation in other states. Discussions held in the interim sessions about AI are likely to impact legislation in Kentucky’s next legislative session starting in January. 

Ryan Harkins, senior director of public policy for Microsoft, told lawmakers about the history of developing artificial intelligence and legislation surrounding it. Harkins said generative AI, which creates texts, images or other content, can be used to summarize texts, go beyond traditional keyword searches, create coding and more. 

Harkins said that while tech companies like Microsoft have adopted ethical principles to guide its AI use, some bad actors may exploit AI. That’s where laws come in. 

“We need law and regulation to play its appropriate role, to ensure that everyone in the marketplace — that everyone in the ecosystem — is abiding by certain basic safety and security standards to ensure that we are mitigating any potential risks of harm,” Harkins said. 

That ongoing “robust conversation” about what the rules should be includes those in the technology industry, policymakers, elected officials, academics and other members of civil society, Harkins added. 

Doug Robinson, the executive director of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), spoke about the various ways that states currently use AI in their operations, such as translating government websites into multiple languages. In some cases, using AI saves time to complete these once “laborious” tasks.

Sen. Amanda Mays Bledsoe, R-Lexington, is a task force co-chair. (LRC Public Information)

Robinson said legislation about AI was introduced in 40 states this year. During Kentucky’s legislative session, two Lexington lawmakers — Republican Sen. Amanda Mays Bledsoe and Democratic Caucus Chair Sen. Reggie Thomas — sponsored a bill aimed at limiting the use of “deep fakes” or deceptive AI to influence elections in Kentucky. The legislation died in a House committee. The bill would have allowed political candidates appearing in manipulated digital media to bring legal action against the sponsor of the media.

Bledsoe is a co-chair of the AI Task Force and Thomas is a member of it. 

The issue of AI interference in elections has also come up at the federal level. In May, the U.S. Senate Rules Committee advanced three bills that would address the use of AI in elections. 

States surveyed by NASCIO reported concerns about the use of AI for disinformation, biased outputs from AI, inadequate data privacy and security.

“Without that understanding, without a policy framework, without a set of enterprise directives coming out of the office of the CIO (chief information officer), which we’ve seen from many states, then you have to be concerned about how these tools are being used, and what the impact might be on the citizens and the actual trust in government,” Robinson said. 

The lawmakers on the committee had several questions about the advancement of AI and how it can be regulated at the state level. 

Rep. Josh Bray, R-Mount Veron, who is also a co-chair of the task force, asked if AI could be used to improve state government functions in cases like addressing the unemployment services backlog built up during the coronavirus pandemic. He also raised concerns about fraud increasing under an AI system. 

Robinson said he viewed that as a “double-edged sword,” as AI is being used in some cases to detect fraud, but adversaries could use generative AI in cybersecurity attacks. 

“I think states in the future will be deploying these capabilities to reduce fraud,” he added. 

The task force’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 13. Bledose said lawmakers on the task force have a lot to discuss during the interim session. 

“This is not a small topic, as you can tell, and it has widespread implications in the private and public sectors, and I think we’re going to do our best to be mindful of both,” she said. 

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