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Animated map shows U.S. states that enacted AI laws in 2021 and 2022.

While the United States doesn’t explicitly regulate AI at the national level, many parts of the country have moved to limit the technology.

What’s new: The Electronic Privacy Information Center published The State of State AI Policy, a summary of AI-related laws that states and cities considered between January 2021 and August 2022.

Passed: Seven laws were enacted that regulate a variety of AI applications and activities.

  • Face recognition: Two states and two cities restricted face recognition. (a) Alabama prohibited law enforcement agencies from using the technology to establish probable cause during a criminal investigation or when trying to make an arrest. (b) Colorado instituted a similar law that bars state and local government agencies from using it to identify, surveil, or track individuals without a warrant. The same state banned face recognition from all public schools and mandated that government agencies that seek to use the technology provide training and file regular reports. (c) The city of Baltimore, Maryland banned all private and non-police government officials from using face recognition within city limits. (d) Bellingham, Washington, prohibited law enforcement from using face recognition or predictive policing tools.
  • Automated decision-making: Two states and one city limited automated hiring. (a ) Vermont established an agency to review state uses of AI. (b) Illinois employers that use automated hiring software are required to report the race and ethnicity of both successful and unsuccessful applicants. (c) Employers in New York City that use such tools are required to notify job applicants and audit such tools before using them.
  • AI education: Mississippi passed a law directing the state’s education department to produce an artificial intelligence and machine learning curriculum for public schools.
  • AI business development: Two states established government oversight of the technology. (a) Alabama established a council to advise lawmakers on the use and development of automation within the state. (b) Illinois formed a task force to forecast the impact of AI and other technologies on employment, wages, and skill requirements for jobs in the state.

Pending: Thirteen more laws are currently in progress in nine states and Washington DC. Bills would establish advisory bodies to study the impacts of AI in California, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. California lawmakers propose mandating processes to minimize algorithmic bias. Hawaii lawmakers propose a tax credit for AI businesses.

Why it matters: AI increasingly affects U.S. society, sometimes in alarming ways (and at the expense of public trust). Yet it remains largely unregulated at the national level. State and local legislation are filling the gap. However, a patchwork legal landscape could be a headache for companies that aim to do business in multiple states.

We’re thinking: A yawning gap separates leaders in technology and government. Many tech executives hold the stereotype that politicians don't understand technology. Meanwhile, politicians widely regard tech executives as being hostile to the government and primarily out to make a buck. It will take effort on both sides to overcome these stereotypes and forge a shared understanding that leads to better regulations as well as better AI.


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