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Colorado Leads Charge in Regulating AI to Combat Discrimination

In this post:

  • Colorado leads in regulating AI that influences hiring, housing, and medical decisions.
  • Colorado’s legislation and six similar bills require organizations to assess the potential bias of AI systems.
  • Companies using AI in their operations are required to notify clients whenever significant decisions involving them are made by AI.

Colorado has taken the lead in regulating artificial intelligence systems that influence hiring, housing, and medical decisions. Seven bills have been proposed with one already passed and approved, aiming to regulate AI’s biased approach toward making important decisions. 

Also Read: National AI Advisory Committee Formed to Address AI Regulation

Despite the opposition, Colorado Governor Jared Polis hesitantly signed the bill on Friday. This bill mandates organizations to evaluate the risk of discrimination from AI, establish monitoring programs, and notify consumers if AI is involved in decision-making.

Colorado Reluctantly Adopts AI Accountability Law

Colorado’s bill, similar to Washington and Connecticut’s, was not welcomed by civil rights groups, the tech industry, cautious lawmakers, and concerned governors. These bills seek to tackle AI bias in critical areas like employment, housing, and health care.

Source: Yahoo News UK

There has been a lot of resistance to the calls for regulation due to the complexity of the technology and the possibility of limiting its development. Governor Polis also raised concerns about the bill, stressing that it should not stifle AI development. 

Bill Mandates AI Bias Assessments, Customer Notifications

Colorado’s legislation, and the six similar bills, require organizations to assess the potential bias of AI systems. Some of the companies using AI in their operations are required to notify clients whenever significant decisions involving them are made by AI. This approach aims at enhancing the transparency and accountability of the AI applications.

Also Read: AI Regulation Sparks Debate Among Tech Giants and Regulators

The initiative comes amid more extensive legislative discussions, with over 400 AI-related bills this year. These bills are mostly centered around specific aspects of AI, such as deepfake and AI pornography. These seven ambitious bills focus on discrimination, one of AI’s most challenging and universal concerns. 

Rumman Chowdhury, an artificial intelligence specialist for the U.S. Department of State, stated,

“We actually have no visibility into the algorithms that are used, whether they work or they don’t, or whether we’re discriminated against.”

AI Discrimination Lurks in Hiring, Housing, and Healthcare

Current legislation against discrimination does not adequately cover the issues arising from the use of AI. Christine Webber, a civil rights attorney, pointed out that AI can amplify prejudice at a much larger level than a single decision-maker.

“Not, I should say, that the old systems were perfectly free from bias either; any one person could only look at so many resumes in the day. So you could only make so many biased decisions in one day, and the computer can do it rapidly across large numbers of people.”

Christine Webber

Also Read: European Union(EU) Takes Lead in AI Regulation

Webber’s case is a perfect example of how AI can bring discrimination to life, with one case accusing an AI tool for rental applications of giving lower scores to black and Hispanic individuals. This issue also affects the medical field, where AI systems have been observed to deny Black patients special care based on their skewed evaluations. Colorado’s bill attempts to address these concerns through annual scrutiny of AI systems for bias, internal regulation, and reporting of discriminating results to the state attorney general. 

Companies Resist Transparency, Fearing Trade Secret Exposure

Although the intention of the bill is to promote transparency and accountability, there are some concerns among the AI industry. While large AI companies tend to approve of such measures, small-scale companies view them as potentially too complex. Thumper.ai founder Logan Cerkovnik stated that,

“Having overly restrictive legislation that forces us into definitions and restricts our use of technology while this is forming is just going to be detrimental to innovation.”

AI companies also prevailed in adding a clause to prevent anyone other than the state attorney general from suing over the law.  The state action in Colorado also comes as Congress mulls federal AI rules. Congress has yet to pass any bills regulating AI, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released a report last week with guidelines for AI regulation.


Cryptopolitan Reporting by Brenda Kanana

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