California senator files bill prohibiting agencies from working with unethical AI companies

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A second California state senator has introduced bills meant to regulate AI systems, particularly those used by state agencies.

Senator Steve Padilla, a Democrat, introduced Senate Bills 892 and 893, establishing a public AI resource and creating a “safe and ethical framework” around AI for the state. Senate Bill 892 will require California’s Department of Technology to develop safety, privacy, and non-discrimination standards around services using AI. It also prohibits the state of California from contracting any AI services “unless the provider of the services meets the established standards.” 

The other bill, SB 893, would establish a California AI research hub that would provide access to compute resources and data for academics. 

Padilla’s bills follow an earlier one introduced by California Senator Scott Wiener in September of last year. That bill proposed transparency standards for “frontier” models, as well as security measures and the establishment of a state AI research center. That bill was classified as an intent bill that required further development before it could pass. 

California already boasts many companies and investors who are solely focused on AI. The state has recently passed several laws that target the tech sector, such as sweeping online safety rules for kids and a right-to-repair act. 

Several federal policymakers have proposed legislation regulating AI. The AI Foundation Model Transparency Act would mandate AI companies disclose training data sources; the No Fakes Act plans to standardize likeness rules to protect individuals from digital replicas without their consent; and there are several bills that would ban the use of AI in election campaign ads. But no major federal regulations have passed specifically addressing recent concerns about AI safety, despite an executive order around the technology from the Biden administration.

This has led several state lawmakers to file state-level legislation. As reported by the Associated Press, Texas, West Virginia, North Dakota, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico have ordered the monitoring or study of AI systems used by state agencies. Meanwhile, Connecticut has decided to review all AI services it uses and plans to regularly review these systems.

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