Government Regulation of Artificial Intelligence

Apr 30, 2024 | Podcasts, Technology Recommendations

​”Government Regulation of Artificial Intelligence,” that’s the subject of today’s ACTEC Trust and Estate Talk.

Transcript/Show Notes

This is Travis Hayes, ACTEC Fellow from Naples, Florida. With the dramatic increase in the use of and applications for generative artificial intelligence, most agree that government regulation will be necessary to protect individuals, entities, and governments from inappropriate and harmful use of private and protected information in the context of AI. Other countries are also in the process of attempting to address this legal issue. ACTEC Fellow Margaret Van Houten of West Des Moines, Iowa, joins us today to share her insights on this evolving topic. Welcome, Margaret.

Margaret Van Houten: Thank you, Travis. It’s a pleasure to be here today. Travis gave you the introduction to why different states, federal governments, and governments throughout the world are looking at regulating artificial intelligence. So what is the real purpose of those efforts, though?

Purposes of Government Regulation of AI

Primarily, that is to first of all avoid or protect against the invasion of privacy, particularly with protected information, including medical information, private matters, and the way that criminal acts are created by AI.

Second, they want to avoid using AI to accomplish those first purposes- the invasion of privacy, the use of it to commit a crime, that sort of thing. If there’s a regulatory structure involved for a government, that gives more teeth behind any efforts to keep that from happening. Also, they want to provide a structure or framework within which companies developing AI will know how to act. Right now, I would say that our AI development companies and entities are somewhat like the Wild Wild West because there is no guidance with respect to what they can, should, or shouldn’t do. And I think there is a great enthusiasm for all the wonderful things that AI can do without thinking too much about the legal ramifications.

Also, AI is not to be used to encourage discriminatory actions. AI mimics us. That’s how it becomes artificial intelligence of humans, it listens to us. And if we’re discriminatory in our thoughts or actions, AI will become discriminatory in its thoughts and actions. And government regulation is one way to do that. So these are the purposes, but also, you don’t want to stifle the growth of AI, and you don’t want to limit its benefits. That’s a terrible, or challenging, maybe I should say, balancing act between protection and benefits.

Self-Regulation of AI

Oftentimes, we hear about self-regulation as a possible option, which is not surprisingly suggested by those who are developing AI. Most people think that there are certain areas in which there is required regulation by the government.

The biggest question in my mind, though, is whether implementing effective legislation and regulations is possible, given the pace of AI implementation right now. It took the European Union between five and six years to enact an omnibus or overriding act for dealing with artificial intelligence. If the United States did not enact an act or certain types of regulations within the next five or six years, we would be so far behind any effective regulation that it would be very difficult to enact that regulation. So that is going to be a big- in my opinion- it’s going to be a big challenge in the United States and other principalities that have not looked at this issue.

EU’s Regulation of AI

And then there’s the other issue of what kind of regulation there should be. The European Union enacted what would be called an overall act, it deals with everything, and it has a very intriguing way of dealing with it. It starts with the most difficult situations or the prohibited acts. So there are certain things, such as criminal acts, that you cannot do at all. You can’t use AI to commit a criminal act. It’s just completely prohibited. Such an AI platform is not allowed. And then they go to different levels of risk.

What platforms have the potential for not abiding by copyright law, for instance? What platforms are limited risks, such as talking to Siri? That doesn’t require the same level of regulation.

And then there are some that are minimal. There’s the limited risk. And then again, there’s the minimal risk, which is like using video games or AI and video games where they don’t even need any sort of regulations. They would just say to the industry here, you need to produce some sort of regulations for yourself. That’s kind of what the European Union did.

Biden Administration’s Regulations of AI

And in the United States, what they have been talking about, and when I say they, I mean the administration. The Biden administration has released both an Executive Order and guidelines. And the Executive Order deals, of course, with the use of AI in the federal government. And there will be limitations on that use. Very similar types of limitations as is in the EU act.

And then there’s also guidelines that industry can follow with knowing that something is coming in the future. And then even though no legislation has been introduced, we are hopeful that there will be some federal legislation introduced in the near future that will be allowed and that will be passed. But it won’t be a short process. Even if everybody throws away their political hats, it won’t happen quickly.

AI Regulation by States and Other Countries

Several states have done limited AI regulation. It’s very hard, in my opinion, to for a state to enact such legislation. Other countries have enacted legislation. Canada has introduced legislation that is relatively over very similar, I believe, to the European Union. China has an overall act. And of course, they were able to pass that very quickly. And India, not surprisingly, has no intention of passing the act because they want nothing more than to attract AI developers to their state. Great Britain is not the same as India, but Great Britain wants to take a more limited approach to dealing with AI on particular areas, in particular departments or agencies. So they do not want an overall act, primarily because they want to encourage AI developers to have their homes in England.

So this is a big, big job for any government that wants to deal with this and needs to deal with it. I am really looking forward to hearing more about this. I have often thought that if I wasn’t a trust and estate lawyer and had time to start again, I might become a regulator of artificial intelligence.

Travis Hayes: Thank you, Margaret, for discussing the timely and evolving topic of potential government regulation of artificial intelligence.

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