Everyone wants to figure out what the threats are from AI and how best to protect against them -- including legislators at both the federal and state level. It remains to be seen how effective early AI laws are, and whether they develop in a similar piecemeal fashion as privacy laws have.
The Hill reports that US states introduced nearly 200 AI-related bills this year, a steep increase over 2022. Most aimed to regulate a specific aspect of AI, such as deepfakes or use of AI in employment decisions. Only fourteen have been signed into law, but industry watchers expect more activity in 2024.
Why It Matters
The US has no national preference on how to handle technological regulation – whether it should be done by the federal government or by the states. However, we have seen states be much quicker to step up on issues that interest them. Congress is too divided (and too unwieldy) to get complicated bills through about complicated new commercial/technological issues, it seems. The pattern that is playing out with data privacy – where companies must examine the minutiae of a growing patchwork of state laws to achieve true compliance – could very easily happen on the AI side, as well. That makes compliance more costly and more risky (what if not all states’ laws set the same requirements on a particular issue?), as well as more confusing to both companies and consumers. Several members of Congress are trying to get momentum behind AI regulation, but so far there is no clear picture of how they would approach or it who would lead.