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First major attempts to regulate AI face headwinds from all sides

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First major attempts to regulate AI face headwinds from all sides
News

News

First major attempts to regulate AI face headwinds from all sides

2024-04-19 07:10 Last Updated At:07:40

DENVER (AP) — Artificial intelligence is helping decide which Americans get the job interview, the apartment, even medical care, but the first major proposals to reign in bias in AI decision making are facing headwinds from every direction.

Lawmakers working on these bills, in states including Colorado, Connecticut and Texas, came together Thursday to argue the case for their proposals as civil rights-oriented groups and the industry play tug-of-war with core components of the legislation.

“Every bill we run is going to end the world as we know it. That’s a common thread you hear when you run policies,” Colorado’s Democratic Senate Majority Leader Robert Rodriguez said Thursday. “We’re here with a policy that’s not been done anywhere to the extent that we’ve done it, and it’s a glass ceiling we’re breaking trying to do good policy.”

Organizations including labor unions and consumer advocacy groups are pulling for more transparency from companies and greater legal recourse for citizens to sue over AI discrimination. The industry is offering tentative support but digging in its heels over those accountability measures.

The group of bipartisan lawmakers caught in the middle — including those from Alaska, Georgia and Virginia — has been working on AI legislation together in the face of federal inaction. On Thursday, they highlighted their work across states and stakeholders, emphasizing the need for AI legislation and reinforcing the importance for collaboration and compromise to avoid regulatory inconsistencies across state lines. They also argued the bills are a first step that can be built on going forward.

“It’s a new frontier and in a way, a bit of a wild, wild West,” Alaska’s Republican Sen. Shelley Hughes said at the news conference. “But it is a good reminder that legislation that passed, it’s not in stone, it can be tweaked over time.”

While over 400 AI-related bills are being debated this year in statehouses nationwide, most target one industry or just a piece of the technology — such as deepfakes used in elections or to make pornographic images.

The biggest bills this team of lawmakers has put forward offer a broad framework for oversight, particularly around one of the technology's most perverse dilemmas: AI discrimination. Examples include an AI that failed to accurately assess Black medical patients and another that downgraded women’s resumes as it filtered job applications.

Still, up to 83% of employers use algorithms to help in hiring, according to estimates from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

If nothing is done, there will almost always be bias in these AI systems, explained Suresh Venkatasubramanian, a Brown University computer and data science professor who’s teaching a class on mitigating bias in the design of these algorithms.

“You have to do something explicit to not be biased in the first place,” he said.

These proposals, mainly in Colorado and Connecticut, are complex, but the core thrust is that companies would be required to perform “impact assessments" for AI systems that play a large role in making decisions for those in the U.S. Those reports would include descriptions of how AI figures into a decision, the data collected and an analysis of the risks of discrimination, along with an explanation of the company’s safeguards.

Requiring greater access to information on the AI systems means more accountability and safety for the public. But companies worry it also raises the risk of lawsuits and the revelation of trade secrets.

David Edmonson, of TechNet, a bipartisan network of technology CEOs and senior executives that lobbies on AI bills, said in a statement that the organization works with lawmakers to “ensure any legislation addresses AI’s risk while allowing innovation to flourish.”

Under bills in Colorado and Connecticut, companies that use AI wouldn’t have to routinely submit impact assessments to the government. Instead, they would be required to disclose to the attorney general if they found discrimination — a government or independent organization wouldn't be testing these AI systems for bias.

Labor unions and academics worry that over reliance on companies self-reporting imperils the public or government's ability to catch AI discrimination before it's done harm.

“It’s already hard when you have these huge companies with billions of dollars,” said Kjersten Forseth, who represents the Colorado's AFL-CIO, a federation of labor unions that opposes Colorado's bill. “Essentially you are giving them an extra boot to push down on a worker or consumer.”

The California Chamber of Commerce opposes that state's bill, concerned that impact assessments could be made public in litigation.

Another contentious component of the bills is who can file a lawsuit under the legislation, which the bills generally limit to state attorney generals and other public attorneys — not citizens.

After a provision in California's bill that allowed citizens to sue was stripped out, Workday, a finance and HR software company, endorsed the proposal. Workday argues that civil actions from citizens would leave the decisions up to judges, many of whom are not tech experts, and could result in an inconsistent approach to regulation.

Sorelle Friedler, a professor who focuses on AI bias at Haverford College, pushes back.

“That’s generally how American society asserts our rights, is by suing,” said Friedler.

Connecticut’s Democratic state Sen. James Maroney said there’s been pushback in articles that claim he and Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Texas, have been “pedaling industry-written bills” despite all of the money being spent by the industry to lobby against the legislation.

Maroney pointed out one industry group, Consumer Technology Association, has taken out ads and built a website, urging lawmakers to defeat the legislation.

“I believe that we are on the right path. We’ve worked together with people from industry, from academia, from civil society,” he said.

“Everyone wants to feel safe, and we’re creating regulations that will allow for safe and trustworthy AI," he added.

Associated Press reporters Trân Nguyễn contributed from Sacramento, California, Becky Bohrer contributed from Juneau, Alaska, Susan Haigh contributed from Hartford, Connecticut.

Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

FILE - OpenAI's ChatGPT app is displayed on an iPhone in New York, May 18, 2023. With companies deploying artificial intelligence to every corner of society, state lawmakers are playing catch-up with the first major proposals to reign in AI's penchant for discrimination — but those bills face blistering headwinds from every direction. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

FILE - OpenAI's ChatGPT app is displayed on an iPhone in New York, May 18, 2023. With companies deploying artificial intelligence to every corner of society, state lawmakers are playing catch-up with the first major proposals to reign in AI's penchant for discrimination — but those bills face blistering headwinds from every direction. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Next Article

Australia and New Zealand begin evacuating nationals from unrest in New Caledonia

2024-05-21 16:06 Last Updated At:16:10

NEWCASTLE, Australia (AP) — Australia and New Zealand sent airplanes to New Caledonia on Tuesday to begin bringing home stranded citizens from the violence-wracked French South Pacific territory.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Australia had received clearance from French authorities for two flights to evacuate citizens from the archipelago, where indigenous people have long sought independence from France.

Hours later, a Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules touched down in Noumea, the capital. The plane can carry 124 passengers, according to the Defense Department.

“We continue to work on further flights,” Wong wrote on the social media platform X on Tuesday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said 300 Australians were in New Caledonia. It did not immediately confirm whether the Australian-organized flights would also evacuate other stranded foreign nationals, believed to number in the thousands.

New Zealand's government also announced that it had sent a plane to New Caledonia to begin evacuating about 50 of its citizens.

“New Zealanders in New Caledonia have faced a challenging few days — and bringing them home has been an urgent priority for the government,” Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said. “In cooperation with France and Australia, we are working on subsequent flights in coming days.”

Noumea’s international airport remains closed to commercial flights. Its reopening will be reassessed on Thursday.

At least six people have died and hundreds more have been injured since violence erupted last week in New Caledonia following controversial electoral reforms passed in Paris.

About 270 suspected rioters have been arrested as of Tuesday, and a 6 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew is in effect for the archipelago of about 270,000 people, which is a popular tourist destination with its idyllic beaches and climate.

France has sent in over a thousand security personnel, with hundreds more due to arrive Tuesday, to try to quell the unrest and restore control.

Armed clashes, looting, arson and other violence turned parts of Noumea into no-go zones. Columns of smoke billowed into the sky, hulks of burned cars littered roads, businesses and shops were ransacked and buildings became smoking ruins.

There have been decades of tensions between indigenous Kanaks who are seeking independence and descendants of colonizers who want to remain part of France.

The unrest erupted May 13 as the French legislature in Paris debated amending the French Constitution to make changes to New Caledonia voter lists. The National Assembly in Paris approved a bill that would, among other changes, allow residents who have lived in New Caledonia for 10 years to cast ballots in provincial elections.

Opponents fear the measure will benefit pro-France politicians in New Caledonia and further marginalize Kanaks who once suffered from strict segregation policies and widespread discrimination.

A RNZAF Hercules C-130 takes off from Whenuapai airbase near Auckland, New Zealand, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia, on a mercy mission to rescue stranded New Zealand tourists, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The Australian and New Zealand governments say they are sending planes to evacuate their nationals from violence-scorched New Caledonia. (Michael Craig/NZ Herald via AP)

A RNZAF Hercules C-130 takes off from Whenuapai airbase near Auckland, New Zealand, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia, on a mercy mission to rescue stranded New Zealand tourists, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The Australian and New Zealand governments say they are sending planes to evacuate their nationals from violence-scorched New Caledonia. (Michael Craig/NZ Herald via AP)

Burnt cars are lined up after unrest that erupted following protests over voting reforms in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Nicolas Job)

Burnt cars are lined up after unrest that erupted following protests over voting reforms in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Nicolas Job)

A RNZAF Hercules C-130 takes off from Whenuapai airbase near Auckland, New Zealand, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia, on a mercy mission to rescue stranded New Zealand tourists, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The Australian and New Zealand governments say they are sending planes to evacuate their nationals from violence-scorched New Caledonia. (Michael Craig/NZ Herald via AP)

A RNZAF Hercules C-130 takes off from Whenuapai airbase near Auckland, New Zealand, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia, on a mercy mission to rescue stranded New Zealand tourists, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The Australian and New Zealand governments say they are sending planes to evacuate their nationals from violence-scorched New Caledonia. (Michael Craig/NZ Herald via AP)

France's President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd right, chairs a security and defence council at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, May 20, 2024. French security forces are working to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French Pacific archipelago where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (Benoit Tessier, Pool via AP)

France's President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd right, chairs a security and defence council at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, May 20, 2024. French security forces are working to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French Pacific archipelago where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (Benoit Tessier, Pool via AP)

FILE - This handout photo provided by the French Army shows security force embarking a plane to New Caledonia at the Istres military base, southern France, on Thursday, May 16, 2024. Using backhoes to shove aside charred vehicles, French security forces worked Sunday, May 19, 2024, to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French South Pacific island where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (Etat Major des Armees via AP, File)

FILE - This handout photo provided by the French Army shows security force embarking a plane to New Caledonia at the Istres military base, southern France, on Thursday, May 16, 2024. Using backhoes to shove aside charred vehicles, French security forces worked Sunday, May 19, 2024, to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French South Pacific island where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (Etat Major des Armees via AP, File)

The French territory of New Caledonia has been rocked by deadly unrest, leading to a state of emergency imposed by Paris. (AP Graphic)

The French territory of New Caledonia has been rocked by deadly unrest, leading to a state of emergency imposed by Paris. (AP Graphic)

FILE - Smoke rises during protests in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday May 15, 2024. Using backhoes to shove aside charred vehicles, French security forces worked Sunday, May 19, 2024, to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French South Pacific island where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (AP Photo/Nicolas Job, File)

FILE - Smoke rises during protests in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday May 15, 2024. Using backhoes to shove aside charred vehicles, French security forces worked Sunday, May 19, 2024, to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French South Pacific island where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (AP Photo/Nicolas Job, File)

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