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California lawmaker proposes regulation of AI models

California lawmaker proposes regulation of AI models

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Senator Scott Wiener’s bill seeks to require transparency from AI models.

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AI brains in a network
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

A California lawmaker will file a bill seeking to make generative AI models more transparent and start a discussion in the state on how to regulate the technology.

Time reports that California Senator Scott Wiener (D) has drafted a bill requiring “frontier” model systems, usually classified as large language models, to meet transparency standards when they reach above a certain quantity of computing power. Wiener’s bill will also propose security measures so AI systems don’t “fall into the hands of foreign states” and tries to establish a state research center on AI outside of Big Tech. 

The bill, which is classified as an intent bill and needs further development before it can pass, will also mandate AI labs to test models for safety risks and disclose to the state if safety risks are found. Wiener’s goal, per a statement sent to The Verge, is to start discussions on regulating AI.

As the federal government continues to move slowly around legislating tech, states have been moving faster in an attempt to put guardrails on what AI companies can and cannot do. While no state has yet passed AI rules, 25 states, along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, introduced AI bills in 2023 as of July, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

California, home to many AI companies and tech investors, has passed sweeping laws targeting the tech sector. Its legislature signed off on online safety rules for kids and passed an extensive electronics right-to-repair law.

The federal government has been looking to regulate AI since last year, holding hearings and summits to understand the technology. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law held another hearing in September, grilling technology companies on AI safety. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hosted a day-long AI Summit with leaders from companies like Meta, Microsoft, and Google. Several lawmakers have filed bills calling for licensing requirements for AI developers and also called for banning the use of deepfaked AI for election ads

Tech companies also pledged to the Biden administration that they will develop AI responsibly.