AI Policy Seminar for U.S. State Legislators

December 13, 2021

In the United States, many paramount AI issues are litigated, regulated, and evaluated in lower jurisdictions before reaching the federal government. States, in essence, serve as laboratories for broader policymaking—providing insight into national regulatory trajectories. In spite of state legislators’ critical role, relatively little is known about their AI expertise, capabilities, and priorities, and few avenues exist to support the development of knowledge and competencies of these key decision-makers in this complex, socio-technical domain.

In light of the importance of state-level AI policy, The Future Society (TFS) hosted a webinar on December 13, 2021, to specifically serve United States state-level legislators and staffers across the country. The webinar was organized in partnership with AI policy researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University as part of broader efforts to better understand state AI policymaking and build capacity for these key decision-makers. 

The Seminar aimed to raise key issues and answer several key questions for state legislators: 1) What exactly is artificial intelligence? 2) How is AI impacting legislators’ constituents? and 3) What can state policymakers do to effectively regulate AI in order to maximize its benefits and minimize its risks? The panelists addressed questions raised by legislators before and during the webinar and spoke on issues including AI’s impact on innovation and geopolitics, AI’s ethical and social dimensions, and the status of AI-related legislation in U.S. states.

The panelists included leading researchers and policy experts on AI, robotics, and state AI policy from TFS, Georgia Tech, and the National Conference of State Legislatures:

  • Yolanda Lannquist (moderator), Head of Research & Advisory, The Future Society
  • Ashok Goel, Professor of Computer Science and Human-Centered Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Ron Arkin, Regents’ Professor and Director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory, College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Pam Greenberg, Senior Fellow, Technology Policy, National Conference of State Legislatures

The lead organizer for the event was Daniel Schiff, PhD Candidate in AI Policy & Ethics at Georgia Institute of Technology.

As part of this capacity-building effort, TFS and its partners have curated a set of helpful resources for state legislators. The resources from a variety of expert sources include: AI procurement best practices, information about AI in judicial systems and education, state and national trends in AI policymaking, machine learning and AI governance courses for policymakers, and more.

A recording of the webinar is available here.