In an effort to get ahead of potential abuses surrounding state agencies’ utilization of artificial intelligence (AI), Alaska State Sen. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) has pre-filed a bill that addresses data privacy, cybersecurity, and political deepfakes.
The Alaska Legislature convenes in Juneau on Jan. 17, and a Hughes’ bill is one of dozens that were pre-filed in the lead up to the start of the legislative session.
A notice about Senate Bill 177 acknowledges that AI is increasingly available to streamline work, but it must be used with transparency and safeguards in order to avoid harming individual Alaskans and manipulating elections.
In particular, Hughes bill requires human oversite for AI, a publicly posted inventory of AI in use by state agencies, and regular impact assessments, which include a review and public report of benefits, liabilities, risks, accountability mechanisms in place, decision appeal processes, and effects on the liberty, finances, livelihood and privacy interest of individuals, among other items.
“AI is evolving ever-quickly; it is the new frontier,” Hughes said upon prefiling her bill. “We cannot stop it. It is already part of our daily lives (for example, every time you use your map program on your smartphone). As policymakers, we must work to harness this tool for good and safeguard against bad actors.”
Hughes added that it is crucial to protect the privacy of individual Alaskans.
“With the vast amount of data state agencies have and may input into algorithms that generate AI outputs, we must ensure data privacy and strong cybersecurity are as airtight as possible,” she noted.
In addition to privacy concerns, the bill also addresses political deepfakes, or digital alterations of a person, which can be used to spread false information and doctored photos and videos.
With the upcoming 2024 election in November, Hughes, like many others, is concerned AI may be used to interfere with the election process.
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Technology experts and writers have been warning for months that well-timed, last minute, fake videos of politicians saying or doing something objectionable, could influence how people vote before the record is ever corrected.
Additionally, AI videos have begun to undermine a shared sense of truth, making it increasingly difficult to know whether a photo or video is authentic or AI generated.
“With easily accessible AI available to develop deepfakes, the likelihood of their creation during the 2024 election cycle is inevitable,” she said.
Hughes bill would require a clear disclosure on a political deepfake that the communication has been manipulated by AI.
“Setting parameters for state agencies and protecting Alaskans when it comes to AI – that is the purpose of this legislation,” Hughes explained. “I look forward to a lively discussion with the legislature and citizens about this emerging technology, this digital frontier, as it relates to the public arena.”