IE11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

New Bills Would Investigate, Regulate AI

As public-sector technologists contemplate how best to use generative artificial intelligence and confront an estimated $68 billion state deficit, lawmakers have released several bills that would create infrastructure, plans and standards for the use of AI.

The main entrance to the California Capitol building.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) were widely discussed last year by public-sector technologists, making it no surprise that several lawmakers now propose legislation offering some oversight.

The flurry of activity should make this legislative session that much more interesting as elected officials consider Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2024-2025 Fiscal Year state budget — set to be unveiled Wednesday — and how to handle an estimated $68 billion deficit. And in a related development late last week, three state entities released the first two of five opportunities for vendors in GenAI. Among the takeaways:

  • State Senate Bill 893, from Sen. Steve Padilla, D-San Diego, would require the California Government Operations Agency (GovOps), the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, and the California Department of Technology (CDT) to collaborate in establishing the California Artificial Intelligence Research Hub within GovOps. The hub would be required to function as a centralized entity enabling work between government agencies, academic institutions, and private-sector partners on advancing AI research and development seeking to harness AI’s “full potential for public benefit while safeguarding privacy, advancing security, and addressing risks and potential harms to society.” The California Artificial Intelligence Research Hub Act specifies the hub must increase lawful access to government data while protecting privacy and safeguarding access to data, via a streamlined process for researchers to access data from state agencies. It must also create an eligibility process that prioritizes security by limiting who can access the data and to what end. Among its other duties, the hub must also support the access to and development of AI computing capacity and technology by building out public computing infrastructure and ensure the development of trustworthy AI technology with a focus on transparency, fairness, and accountability. The bill had its first reading Jan. 3 and was sent to the state Senate Rules Committee for assignment.
  • Assembly Bill 1791 from Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber, D-San Diego, would build on current law requiring the GovOps secretary to develop a coordinated plan for investigating “the feasibility of, and obstacles to, developing standards and technologies for state departments to determine digital content provenance,” and as part of that, evaluating the impact of the proliferation of deepfakes. AB 1791 would declare lawmakers’ intent to amend existing law with provisions requiring California-based companies in the GenAI business to implement the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity’s technical open standard and content credentials into their tools and platforms. The bill had its first reading Thursday.
  • SB 892, also from Padilla, would add to CDT’s responsibilities around IT contracts. Specifically, it would require the department to establish safety, privacy, and nondiscrimination standards related to “artificial intelligence services, as defined” and, starting Aug. 1, 2025, would bar the state from entering into a contract for AI services unless the vendor meets those standards. CDT would also have to report to the Legislature on the standards it sets. The bill defines AI as a “machine-based system that can, for a given set of human-defined objectives, make predictions, recommendations, or decisions influencing a real or virtual environment.” The bill had its first reading Jan. 3 and went to the Senate Rules Committee for assignment.
  • There’s been no action yet on SB 896, the Artificial Intelligence Accountability Act, from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, which also had its first reading Jan. 3. It proposes requiring GovOps, CDT and the Office of Data and Innovation to generate a State of California Benefits and Risk of Generative Artificial Intelligence Report that would, among other things, examine the most significant and potentially beneficial uses for which the state could deploy GenAI tools. It would also require the California Cybersecurity Integration Center and the State Threat Assessment Center to do a joint risk analysis of potential threats posed by GenAI to critical energy infrastructure, including threats that could lead to mass casualty events and environmental emergencies. This analysis would have to be done as often as deemed appropriate by the state director of emergency services. This bill, too, went to the Senate Rules Committee for assignment.
  • SB 294, from Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, arrived late in the legislative session last year and served as an “intent bill” aimed at generating discussion about creating a new state agency to guide and regulate responsible development of AI — or task an existing agency with that mission. It headed to the Senate Rules Committee before being withdrawn last year and has since been refocused on an entirely different topic: health-care coverage.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.