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California Takes Cue from Europe to Tame the AI Frontier

Published March 28, 2024
1 months ago

As California, the United States' wealthiest state and the nucleus of technological innovation, grapples with the unbridled rise of artificial intelligence, legislators in Sacramento are drawing inspiration from Europe's robust regulatory playbook. The spotlight turns to Silicon Valley, where the balance between innovation and regulation has never been more precarious.

Europe's tough stance on US-centric tech companies, evidenced by the expedient rollout of the AI Act in the wake of ChatGPT's debut, underscores a sense of urgency and global competitiveness in AI legislation. California's pursuit of a regulated tech ecosystem mirrors this approach, with Senior Policy Advisor David Harris from the California Initiative for Technology and Democracy emphasizing the state's efforts to "learn from and work with the Europeans."

State assembly member Gail Pellerin champions legislation with a clear objective to stem the tide of AI-generated disinformation, particularly during critical election periods. Her bill would effectively outlaw the dissemination of deceptive digital content crafted by generative AI technology during elections.

The proposed legal frameworks in California encompass an array of AI-related concerns, from transparency in AI model training data to the explicit prohibition of AI-generated features in election ads. The state is poised to set a national precedent with approximately 30 bills addressing AI in the pipeline.

Despite fierce resistance from industry groups like NetChoice, who advocate for minimal tech regulation, proponents of the legislation remain undeterred. Adobe, a major player in the tech sphere, supports a risk-based strategy, aligning with the EU's approach delineated in the AI Act. Adobe General Counsel Dana Rao has highlighted the company's proactive "impact assessments" to mitigate AI risks prior to product launches.

The issue of deepfakes emerges as a litmus test for California's regulatory endeavors. Bills such as Assembly Bill 602 and Assembly Bill 730 specifically target non-consensual deepfake pornography and AI deepfakes in election campaigns, respectively.

California's AI legislative journey is closely monitored on a national scale. The implications of state-enacted laws could reverberate beyond its borders, potentially shaping the direction of AI regulation across the United States.

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