Proposed Bills Could Make Washington An AI Reg Leader

With an array of bills brought forward by lawmakers during this legislative session, Washington state could become a leader in artificial intelligence regulation. The legislation homes in on digital profiling as well as biometric screening and is part of a wider list of bills related to technology that the state legislature is mulling, GeekWire reported.

Microsoft, as well as its president, has been asking regulators to make legislation on artificial intelligence (AI) for months. Amazon has also begun to ask for AI tech regulation. Critics, however, contend that the involvement of both companies in the legislative process is a way to make sure that laws don’t become too burdensome. The bills taken together are said to show the mounting anxiety of legislators and citizens on how AI will impact normal lives. 

Washington Sen. Reuven Carlyle, among others, in one case, is aiming for a new data privacy bill again. Legislators have rolled out a separate facial recognition bill. Another bill is related to AI-enabled profiling, to make sure that machines can’t make decision that could have real-life impacts on residents on Washington. 

As an example, an owner of a C-store might use AI tech that can forecast the mood of customers. With technology that reads facial expressions, the software tells the clerk that the customer appears to be angry and scared. That information, in turn, causes the owner to get the customer out of the store over shoplifting fears. 

In separate news from late last year, two U.S. legislators had introduced a new bill that would create a federal agency that has the sole purpose of regulating the tech industry. The Online Privacy Act, if passed, would lead to the Digital Privacy Agency (DPA)’s creation. The agency would have 1,600 officials and would make regulations as well as look to see the imposed privacy rules are being followed. The legislation is in response to privacy scandals.

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