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US state legislators race to enact AI laws before 2024 primaries

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As the US primary elections approach, state legislatures are pushing to pass laws that can prevent or minimize the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and AI-generated deepfakes, as reported by the New York Times.

Following a surprising outcome in the Slovakian election, possibly influenced by an AI-generated fake recording of a candidate buying votes, lawmakers worldwide are taking action to prevent similar incidents in their own countries. The US, the UK, India, and various EU countries all have elections this year, making it crucial to address the issue of AI.

Currently, only five states – Texas, Minnesota, Washington, California, and Michigan – have enacted legislation on AI and deepfakes. However, 12 other states have introduced bills, with more expected to follow suit. Strong bipartisan support has been evident where legislation has been put in place.

Efforts are also underway to introduce bills at a federal level, with Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Republican Josh Hawley of Missouri collaborating on a bipartisan basis. Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, remarked to the NYT, “It’s one thing to rebut a lie or a mischaracterization, but to rebut a convincing video or recording of you saying something, what do you do? That’s why we’re seeing this breadth of interest.”

What do the laws against AI do?

The landscape of legislating ads, particularly political ones, is complicated due to concerns about the First Amendment. Legislators are cautious about imposing harsh, prescriptive laws that may invite challenges.

As a result, rather than completely banning fake or misleading AI ads, legislators are focusing on requiring disclosure. Any generated or manipulated ad will need to have clear text or audio indicating that they have been created by AI.

Many of these laws will only apply to ads released in the 90 days leading up to an election.

In Kentucky, even first-time violators will be subject to felony charges with up to five years in prison, which differs from most states that prefer fines. Republican State Representative John Hodgson explained that a fine of several hundred or thousand dollars would not be sufficient to deter people.

Featured image: Andrew Patrick/Pexels

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