Georgia lawmakers weigh whether AI legislation needed

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(The Center Square) — Georgia lawmakers are weighing whether the state should act to legislate or regulate artificial intelligence, following similar actions in other states and at the federal level.

“Artificial Intelligence is a pretty hot buzzword these days, and being a technology person by background, sometimes we put these big words out there, and people don’t really understand what they mean,” state Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, said during a joint meeting of the Senate Committees on Public Safety and Science and Technology.

“This is more than a disrupter, folks,” Albers added. “This is like the invention of the wheel. It’s that big; it’s going to impact every part of our lives, and it’s happening in real-time.”

Maria Saab, a senior public policy manager on behalf of Amazon Web Services, said that while there is an interest in new AI-specific regulations, many current technology laws and industry-specific regulations may already cover the use of AI.

“When you’re considering whether a new regulation is needed, you should ask yourself whether the use of AI adds new risk beyond the risks already present when the AI is not in use,” Saab said.

“And then where existing laws are insufficient to address [the] application of [AI], lawmakers should consider whether amending existing applicable requirements may be better than creating a brand new or separate framework,” Saab added. “Working within existing regulatory frameworks and with existing authorities may actually help to ensure that sector and product-specific AI expertise is being developed and will facilitate regulation that is targeted to actual issues at hand in that kind of use.”

Georgia is not alone in pondering the pros and cons of AI, and other states have also explored how they might approach AI. In 2020, for example, Ohio officials announced a plan to deploy an AI tool to reform the state’s regulatory landscape.

“How do you actually regulate AI as a state entity when the technology is accelerating the way it is?” Peter Stockburger, a partner with the Dentons law firm, told the committee. “We know the call to regulate AI is clear. Everybody wants a solution. We do not know the right path forward. That’s what everyone is struggling with.

“…What we need for the future of AI regulation is we need a means, a method of actually encoding principles and guidelines directly into the AI itself, not rely on the makers of AI to be responsible, but actually encode it into the technology itself,” Stockburger added. “And that’s where we come up with the call for standards.”

The G7, the National Institute for Standards Technology, the G20 and the United Nations General Assembly have called for developing technical standards, Stockburger said.

“The challenge with technical standards is it’s not enough for AI,” Stockburger added. “And that is because AI also has to understand societal principles and values. A technical solution to AI does not take into account social considerations. That’s why we talk about socio-technical standards. It’s a new form of standards.”

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