Senate Hearing Previews Debate on AI in Government

Published On: February 28, 2024

On Feb. 21, the Senate Governmental Organization Committee and Senate Budget Subcommittee on State Administration, chaired by Senators Bill Dodd and Steve Padilla respectively, who both have pending legislation, held an informational hearing on the use and oversight of artificial intelligence in the public sector.  Titled California at the Forefront: Steering AI Toward Ethical Horizons, the hearing included three panels with speakers representing academia, labor, and state government operations, including testimony from GovOps Secretary Amy Tong and CDT Director Liana Bailey-Crimmins.  The two-hour hearing gave a high-level overview of the upcoming debate related to pending legislation that will govern how California uses generative artificial intelligence in government programs.

“I think AI has incredible potential to make the world a better place and to make life better for humanity on so many levels. We also know that there are real risks. And I think it’s really important not to be alarmist because being alarmist could result in choking off innovation. And that’s the last thing we want to do, we want to be pro-innovation,” said Senator Scott Wiener, who is authoring SB 1047, the Safe and Secure Innovation for Frontier Artificial Intelligence Systems Act. “But it’s important not to be a denialist about the very real risks that we need to get ahead of. And that’s my view of what we need to get ahead of the risks, we have a long history, not just in California, but in the US and on this planet, of not getting ahead of risks created by new technology.”

The agenda and video of Wednesday’s two-hour Senate hearing are posted below.


California at the Forefront: Steering AI Towards Ethical Horizons I. Artificial intelligence in the public sector:

Academic perspective

  • Michael Karanicolas: Executive Director, UCLA Institute for Technology, Law & Policy
  • Daniel Ho: Professor of Law, Stanford Law School; Director of the Regulation, Evaluation, and Governance Lab; Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for HumanCentered AI; Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research II.

Workforce and innovator perspective

  • Addie Cooke: Global AI Public Policy Lead at Google Cloud
  • Annette Bernhardt: Director, Technology and Work Program at the UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment III.

State entity perspective

  • Amy Tong, Secretary, Government Operations Agency
  • Liana Bailey-Crimmins: Director, California Department of Technology
  • Angela Shell: Chief Procurement Officer, California Department of General Services
  • Monica Erickson: Chief Deputy Director, California Department of Human Resources

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