Feb 6, 2024 - Politics

Colorado leaders want a crackdown on AI and deepfakes

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Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The demand for guardrails on artificial intelligence and fake images is gaining renewed urgency.

The big picture: Colorado lawmakers who are behind efforts in Washington, D.C. and Denver to regulate AI and deepfakes say that for-profit technology companies can't be left to police themselves.

Driving the news: U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, who is backing legislation in Congress to increase accountability on AI creators, stressed the current "historic inflection point" on the issue during a speech Monday at a conference hosted by the University of Colorado Boulder's law school.

  • The Democrat said he is worried about negative impacts on certain segments of the workforce, as well as the impact on society at large.

What he's saying: "The biggest question we should be asking ourselves today is if we want to recreate the social media self-policing tragedy with AI," Hickenlooper said at the conference, referring to exploitation of children and suicides attributed to platforms like Facebook and TikTok.

  • "And whether these AI companies should be shielded from legal liabilities if they aren't doing enough to prevent the harms their systems could create."

Threat level: The attention comes as AI colors the 2024 election, as with the recent bogus call to New Hampshire voters purportedly from President Biden, and propels online smears, like the fake porn images aimed at Taylor Swift.

  • "There is so much harm," said Danielle Citron, a national AI expert who spoke at the conference.
  • "This is an issue that needs constant attention," added David Sullivan, the executive director of the Digital Trust and Safety Partnership.

The intrigue: Not waiting for action in Washington, Colorado lawmakers are joining a half dozen states in pushing their own regulations.

  • A Democratic-led bill introduced this session would crack down on generative AI content and deepfakes in elections, declaring them "a threat to free and fair elections in the state."
  • The legislation would require disclosures for AI-generated campaign messages and allow candidates negatively impacted by maliciously false content to file a civil lawsuit for damages.

Go deeper: Can you spot deepfakes? Take our quiz.

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