AI Measures Kick Off Legislative Session

By Published On: January 23, 2024

With all expectations that artificial intelligence will remain a central focus in the upcoming legislative session, members introduced several bills to regulate the use of AI.

Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) introduced the California AI Accountability Act (SB 896) to incorporate and build upon recent AI directives from President Joe Biden and Gov. Gavin Newsom and seeks to encourage continued innovation while ensuring the rights and opportunities of all Californians are protected.

“By now we all recognize the tremendous capability of artificial intelligence to improve our lives and the functioning of government,” Sen. Dodd said in a press release. “But we also see its potential downsides — specifically, the threat to consumer privacy, transparency and fairness. My proposal will help identify the risks of these emerging systems and develop appropriate guidelines to protect our state and the public.”

According to the announcement, the bill proposes to guide the decision-making of state agencies, departments, and subdivisions in the review, adoption, management, governance and regulations of automated decision-making technologies.  The measure also encourages the state to invest in AI education and build AI competency in the state’s workforce.

Another set of bills was introduced by Senator Steve Padilla (D-San Diego) introduced Senate Bills 892 and 893, which would require the Department of Technology (CDT) to establish safety, privacy, and nondiscrimination standards relating to AI services, and would establish the California Artificial Intelligence Research Hub within the Government Operations Agency.

The Hub would serve as a centralized entity to facilitate collaboration between government agencies, academic institutions, and private sector partners to advance artificial intelligence research and development that seeks to “harness the technology’s full potential for public benefit while safeguarding privacy, advancing security, and addressing risks and potential harms to society.”

“The public has been left vulnerable to the dangers AI poses because of congressional failure to act and the regulatory desert they’ve created,” Senator Padilla said in a press release.

Senate Bill 892 would prohibit the state from entering into any contract for AI services unless the vendor meets the established standards created by CDT, effective August 1, 2025.

Assemblymember Akilah Weber, M.D. (D-La Mesa)  has introduced  AB 1791 to address the issue of intentionally deceptive content, or “deepfakes” on the internet, particularly focusing on generative artificial intelligence (AI). This legislation will require the establishment of an industry standard for identifying generative AI.

“This standard has been adopted by a multi-stakeholder initiative made up of more than 1800 entities from the private sector, academia, human rights groups, NGOs, and others,” says a Dec. 21 announcement from Weber.

Meanwhile, last fall, Senator Wiener (D- San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill 294, known as the Safety in Artificial Intelligence Act, to establish a comprehensive framework for the safe development of artificial intelligence (AI) in California.

Other legislative proposals from last year’s session may advance in some form, such as Assembly Bill 331 by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-San Ramon) which would require developers and implementers of systems that use automated decision systems to file an impact report with the California Department of Civil Rights.

In September, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 302 by Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego) which calls for the California Department of Technology to develop a comprehensive inventory of automated decision systems (ADS) used in state programs by September 1, 2024.

On November 27, the Government Operations Agency issued its first report in response to Governor Newsom’s executive order calling for the state to evaluate the current use and future risks and rewards of integrating GenAI into the state’s governmental framework.

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