Utah begins drafting policies to regulate artificial intelligence

SALT LAKE CITY Alan Fuller entered a request into an AI app.

“I just asked a simple question: Who are some of the key leaders in the Utah State Legislature?” the state’s technology services chief said in an interview with FOX 13 News.

The response he got was certainly interesting.

“First he relieved Governor Cox, who, although he’s a state leader, is not in the legislature, right? Then he relieved Stuart Adams, good,” he said, referring to the Utah State Senate chairman. “Brad Wilson is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, good. But then he said Jennifer Seelig is the Minority Leader in the Utah House of Representatives. No, he’s not.”

This is when things got even more bizarre.

“Then it turns out that Don Ippolito is the Minority Leader in the Utah State Senate. I can’t find anyone named Don Ippolito… what if you take a closer look at the picture? It’s Bill Clinton in the picture. So a completely fictitious and made-up answer.”

It was an example Fuller used during a Friday discussion on the rapid rise of artificial intelligence and the opportunities to use it, as well as the potential risks. As FOX 13 News reported earlier this week, the Utah state legislature convened a special working group to look into AI and whether it needs regulation.

On Friday, the Utah Policy Innovation Lab hosted a discussion between tech company CEOs and policy makers about artificial intelligence. Many spoke about the benefits for productivity, education and how it can dramatically change the workforce.

“Some people are predicting it will cure cancer in the next 5 to 10 years using AI to help solve different forms of the disease,” said Matthew Poll, CEO of GTF. “I think cancer is definitely on the list. I also think from a geopolitical standpoint, that could be our saving grace.”

Nick Pelikan, CEO of Piste.AI, said he is already using it with some of his company’s clients.

“You can use a chatbot to personalize, especially these chatbots that feel very human, you can use that chatbot to personalize the customer experience to a point where it’s indistinguishable to the person where it’s a person talking to them or a robots,” the crowd said.

Pelikan noted a “publicity cycle” right now surrounding AI, noting that the technology has been around for years now, but what has changed is its quality and responses that are more “human.” But others have warned of the risks of misinformation, “deepfake” hoaxes, and an overreliance on technology with a lack of human oversight.

“Machines are going to get a lot smarter and people are going to get a lot dumber,” joked Barclay Burns, CEO of GenerativeImpact.AI.

Margaret Woolley Busse, executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce, said AI could be helpful with support services. But she expressed concern about not being able to tell what is real and is created by an artificial intelligence.

“If you don’t trust anything now why are there so many things that are false? It could shut down our economy because now we have to check everything because it looks like it could be false,” he said.

Lawmakers who are part of the Legislator’s Working Group said the bills would cover data privacy and consumer protection. Senator Kirk Cullimore, R-Sandy, said he wanted to ensure that “the public will be able to identify what is AI-generated versus what is authentic.”

Fuller said the state has already begun implementing fair dealing when using AI systems.

“There should be no personally identifiable information entered into prompts by state employees,” he said. “Second, we shouldn’t use the output of AI models without a human reading it and taking responsibility for the output.”

Even some founders of tech companies have agreed that regulation of AI systems may be needed. Becki Wright founded Proximity, which aims to help political candidates in their campaigns. You said you use artificial intelligence to assist users.

“I hope we can go ahead and say there are some guardrails you want to use, but I also want us to continue to drive innovation and enable startups to do things and innovate in a way that won’t be hampered by regulation,” he told FOX 13 News.

Rep. Jefferson Moss, R-Saratoga Springs, agrees.

“We don’t want to be an overly burdensome state on regulation, but we do want to be able to put up some guardrails to make sure we keep certain things under control,” he said.

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