Feb 14, 2024 - Technology

Exclusive: States are introducing 50 AI-related bills per week

Illustration of a calendar made up entirely of binary code

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nearly all of the state legislatures currently in session are considering AI-related bills and nearly half of those bills address deepfakes, according to an analysis by software industry group BSA, shared exclusively with Axios.

Why it matters: Rapid AI innovation and a federal regulatory vacuum have given state legislatures the impetus to generate a six-fold increase in AI draft legislation compared to a year ago.

What's happening: As of Feb. 7 there were 407 total AI-related bills across more than 40 states, up from 67 bills a year ago.

  • States introduced 211 AI bills last month.

Catch-up quick: The targets of the bills range from bias and discrimination to facial recognition technology and deepfakes.

  • Legislators in 33 states have put forward election-related AI bills.

January saw a huge spike in new bills. They're now being produced at a rate of 50 per week — half of them pertaining to deepfakes.

By the numbers: States with the most bills under consideration are New York (65), California (29), Tennessee (28), Illinois (27), New Jersey (25).

  • Alabama and Wyoming are the only states currently in session without AI legislation under consideration.
  • Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington announced AI executive action in January.
  • Connecticut now requires ongoing assessments to ensure AI doesn't cause discrimination or disparate impact.

The intrigue: The states with the biggest AI industries — California and New York — are also generating the most draft bills.

  • Tennessee's AI legislation explosion is driven by the copyright concerns of the local music industry, led by the Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security (ELVIS) Act enacted in January.

Between the lines: Today's state legislators seem determined not to repeat inaction on social media regulation.

  • Some of the most prominent AI legislators were active in state privacy legislation — seeing AI guardrails as a logical next step in digital rights.

Flashback: State legislators began building their AI momentum over summer 2023, introducing 191 bills across 31 states by September — but only 14 became law.

What they're saying: "Penalties for deepfakes is the hot topic," Craig Albright, BSA's senior vice president for U.S. government relations ,told Axios.

  • "A lot of the deepfake language is similar across states. We're seeing a lot of coordination," said Matt Lenz, BSA's senior director for state advocacy.
  • Some advocacy groups worry that strict AI regulation will end up protecting early AI leaders, because they'll have the most resources to manage the burden.
  • "Wrapping up new AI models in red tape effectively cements the biggest tech players as winners of the AI race," said Chamber of Progress tech policy director Todd O'Boyle via email.

Yes, but: Governors so far haven't made AI a priority in their 2024 state of the state addresses.

What's next: State governors have a chance to build up coordination on AI legislation and executive action as they gather in Washington D.C. this week.

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