California Proposes Landmark Regulations for AI

A California legislator has introduced a landmark artificial intelligence (AI) bill that would regulate the technology and address the potential dangers of AI. Artificial intelligence technology has advanced so significantly in the past few years that it is becoming increasingly integrated into key systems and people’s everyday lives.

Many experts say AI technology may be dangerous to humanity, and some, including Center for AI Safety (CAIS) director and researcher Dan Hendrycks, say AI could even “destroy humanity.” Although the idea that AI poses an existential threat to humanity is widely disputed, industry leaders have expressed concern for issues such as major cyberattacks or rogue weapon systems.

However, AI remains largely unregulated despite the risks it poses and the influence it could have over multiple industries. The California AI regulation proposal would call for mandatory testing for “wide-reaching AI products” before they hit the shelves and reach final users. Additionally, the measure would require each AI model to include a shut-down feature in case of any issues. On top of an emergency off-switch, the proposal would require hacking protections to ensure AI is more resistant to attempted entry by bad actors.

Bill sponsor Senator Scott Wiener said it’s better to prepare for safety risks with the potential to cause extreme hazards before they occur. His bill would force large AI models to go through increased scrutiny before they reach the wider market, ensuring officials have enough time to test the products and their potential impact before the public gains access.

The bill would form the Frontier Model Division within the state Department of Technology to regulate artificial intelligence technology in California, home to some of the top AI companies in the world. It would also establish a publicly owned initiative called CalCompute to facilitate computing power sharing among local researchers, community groups and businesses.

Economic Security California director Teri Olle says the measure could make it easier for smaller companies or organizations with limited computing capacity to enter the fledgling artificial intelligence industry by lowering the technical threshold. Increasing access to AI will also increase research and development (R&D) while allowing for innovations that are geared toward public interests, Olle said.

AI Now Institute managing director Sarah Myers West applauded the AI regulation proposal and said it was “great” to see lawmakers focus on addressing the potential harms of artificial technology before it goes public.

According to Wiener, the regulations would not apply to small-scale artificial intelligence products; rather it mostly focuses on extreme AI-related risks. Wiener said that the California legislature was already looking at other measures addressing some of the harms associated with AI and noted that one bill wouldn’t solve every issue.

Enterprises such as Inc. (NYSE: AI) will be following closely to see how this California bill pans out given its potential to impact the way AI companies develop and eventually commercialize the solutions that they bring to market.

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