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Utah starts crafting policies to regulate artificial intelligence

Posted at 1:34 PM, Jun 02, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Alan Fuller plugged in a request in an AI app.

"I just did a simple query: Who are some of the key leaders in the state of Utah legislature?" the state's head of technology services said in an interview with FOX 13 News.

The response he got was certainly interesting.

"It first brought up Governor Cox, which, although he is a state leader, he's not in the legislature, correct? Then it brought up Stuart Adams, good," he said, referring to the Utah State Senate President. "Brad Wilson is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, good. But then it said Jennifer Seelig is the Minority Leader in the Utah House of Representatives. No, she's not."

That's when things got even more bizarre.

"Then it brought up Don Ippolito is the Minority Leader in the Utah State Senate. I can't find anyone named Don Ippolito... and if you take a close look at the picture? It has Bill Clinton in the picture. So a completely fictitious, made up answer."

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

On Friday, the Utah Policy Innovation Lab hosted a discussion among tech company CEOs and policymakers about AI. Many spoke about the benefits to productivity, education and how it can dramatically change the workforce.

"Some people are predicting it cures cancer in the next 5-10 years using AI to help solve different forms of disease," said Matthew Poll, the CEO of GTF. "I think cancer is definitely on the list. I also think from a geopolitical standpoint, this may be our saving grace."

Nick Pelikan, the 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 are very human seeming, you can use that chatbot to personalize the customer experience to a point it’s indistinguishable for the person where it’s a person talking to them or a robot," he told the crowd.

Pelikan noted a "hype cycle" right now surrounding AI, pointing out that the technology has been used for years now but what has changed is the quality of it and responses that are more "human." But others warned of risks for misinformation, "deepfake" hoaxes and an over-reliance on the technology with a lack of human oversight.

"The machines are going to become a lot smarter and people are going to become a lot stupider," joked Barclay Burns, the CEO of GenerativeImpact.AI.

Margaret Woolley Busse, the executive director of Utah's Department of Commerce, said AI could be helpful with support services. But she expressed concern about being unable to tell what is real and is created by an artificial intelligence.

"If you don’t trust anything now because there’s so many things that are fake? It could make our economy closed because now we have to check everything because it seems like it could be fake," she said.

Lawmakers who serve on the legislature's work group said bills will be run around data privacy and consumer protection. Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Sandy, said he wanted to ensure "the public will be able to identify what is AI-generated versus what is authentic."

Fuller said the state has already started rolling out proper conduct when using AI systems.

"There shouldn’t be any personally identifiable information put into prompts by state employees," he said. "Second, we shouldn’t be using the output of generative AI models without a human reading it and taking responsibility for the output of it."

Even some tech company founders agreed that regulation of AI systems may be necessary. Becki Wright founded Proximity, which aims to help political candidates in their campaigns. She said she uses an AI to assist users.

"I'm hopeful we can get ahead of it and say here’s some guardrails you want to use, but also I want us to continue to foster innovation and allow startups to do stuff and innovate in a way that’s not going to be hampered by regulation," she told FOX 13 News.

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

"We don’t want to be an overly burdensome state on regulation, but we want to be able to create some guardrails to make sure we’re keeping certain things in check," he said.