April 25, 2024

State Senate Passes Landmark AI Legislation

Acknowledging the growing and changing uses of artificial intelligence worldwide, and seeking to preserve innovation while preventing malicious uses of the technology, the State Senate this week advanced Senate Bill 2, legislation that provides increased guidance and oversight of AI. The bill passed by a 24-12 tally, with Democrats in support and Republicans voting against.

“This legislation seeks to place guiderails on AI’s uses and development,” said State Senator James Maroney. “It’s focused on preventing harms while fostering innovation and benefits – and factors in the consequences of the technology’s future uses if we don’t act now.”

Senate Bill 2 includes vital protections for consumers, tenants, employees and citizens considering the vast uses of artificial intelligence and algorithms across a wide variety of industries, seeking to strike a balance between unregulated use of AI and allowing businesses and industries to continue developing new systems with benefits to consumers. The bill targets risks of algorithms discriminating against people based on protected classes like race, religion and disability in situations where AI can have significant impacts – these including housing, finance, criminal justice and insurance.

“We have biases built into our society. AI picks up on it,” said State Senator Gary Winfield.

One of the focal points of the bill involved malicious uses of AI – in 2024, there have been high-profile instances of falsified images and voice recordings, including “deepfake” pornography images of famous celebrities including Taylor Swift and voice recordings claiming to be of President Joe Biden telling individuals incorrect information about elections. SB2 will make “deepfake” pornography a crime in the category of unlawful distribution of intimate images and prohibit distribution of “deepfake” voice recordings.

As AI-created content becomes harder to identify, the bill would ensure content online created using such technology is identifiable, allowing users to evaluate what they read online.

“There’s a lot of room here for potential problems for all of our constituents,” said State Senator Bob Duff. “This bill will put those necessary guidelines and parameters around what is appropriate.”

The bill would also approach the benefits of AI, tasking state agencies to find ways that AI could improve internal processes and procedures; developing workforce training programs surrounding AI; and creating a “Connecticut Citizens Academy” to provide professional training in higher education settings.

Major companies such as IBM and Microsoft, as well as smaller businesses in Connecticut, have endorsed the bill; it’ll next head to the House.