Georgia lawmakers are grappling with the question of whether the state should enact legislation or regulations specifically addressing artificial intelligence (AI). This deliberation comes in the wake of similar actions taken by other states and at the federal level. As AI technology continues to advance rapidly, the need for legal frameworks to govern its use has become a subject of increasing concern and debate.
A game-changer with far-reaching implications
During a joint meeting of the Senate Committees on Public Safety and Science and Technology, State Senator John Albers, a Republican from Roswell, emphasized the significance of AI. He likened AI to a monumental invention, stating, “This is more than a disrupter, folks. 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.”
The complexity of regulating AI
One of the challenges in legislating AI is the complexity of the technology itself. Maria Saab, a senior public policy manager representing Amazon Web Services, highlighted the need for careful consideration. She pointed out that existing technology laws and industry-specific regulations may already cover aspects of AI use. Saab suggested that lawmakers should evaluate whether AI introduces new risks beyond those already associated with traditional technologies.
Saab further explained, “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. 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.”
This approach, working within existing regulatory frameworks, could potentially ensure that AI expertise is developed within specific sectors and products, leading to more targeted and effective regulation.
The national landscape of AI regulation
Georgia is not alone in its contemplation of AI regulation. Across the United States, various states have been exploring ways to address AI-related concerns. In 2020, Ohio officials unveiled plans to utilize AI tools to streamline the state’s regulatory landscape, demonstrating the growing interest in leveraging AI for governance.
Peter Stockburger, a partner at the Dentons law firm, acknowledged the widespread demand for AI regulation while emphasizing the lack of consensus on the right approach. He posed a fundamental question: “How do you actually regulate AI as a state entity when the technology is accelerating the way it is?”
The call for standards in AI regulation
One proposed solution to the AI regulation challenge is the establishment of technical standards. Stockburger emphasized that entities like the G7, the National Institute for Standards and Technology, the G20, and the United Nations General Assembly have all advocated for the development of technical standards for AI.
However, Stockburger also highlighted a critical limitation of technical standards. While they can address the technical aspects of AI, they may not encompass the societal principles and values that should guide AI systems. To address this gap, he introduced the concept of “socio-technical standards,” which integrate both technical and social considerations.
The need for socio-technical standards
Socio-technical standards represent a novel approach to AI regulation, one that recognizes the importance of aligning AI systems with societal values. Stockburger argued, “The challenge with technical standards is it’s not enough for AI. 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.”
As Georgia lawmakers contemplate the need for AI legislation, they grapple with the transformative potential and complexity of AI technology. Balancing the necessity of regulation with the need for innovation and growth presents a formidable challenge. The debate over AI regulation is not limited to Georgia but extends across the nation, with diverse opinions on the most effective approach.