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State-Level AI Legislation Balloons Amid Rise of Deepfakes

AI legislation

The rise of AI-powered deepfake technology has reportedly fostered a corresponding boom in state-level legislation.

Almost every state legislature now in session across the country is considering bills related to artificial intelligence (AI), with nearly half addressing deepfakes, Axios reported Wednesday (Feb. 14), citing an analysis by software industry group BSA.

The past year has seen a six-fold increase in AI-related bills, the report said. As of last week, there were 407 such bills spread across states, compared to 67 a year earlier.

The report says more than half of those 407 bills were introduced last month alone, with legislation being announced at a rate of 50 bills per week.

“A lot of the deepfake language is similar across states, we’re seeing a lot of coordination,” Matt Lenz, BSA’s senior director for state advocacy, told Axios.

Among the proposed laws is one from California that would require powerful AI models to be licensed through a new state agency and would also set up an AI public computing cluster.

And earlier this week, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed an updated law against child sexual abuse images, mandating jail time for people convicted of creating, distributing and possessing AI-generated images.

The report argues that states have been fueled by both rapid innovations in the AI sector and a regulatory “vacuum” at the national level.

While President Joe Biden last year issued an executive order governing AI, with more than 200 companies joining the government’s AI safety consortium, there is still no federal AI regulation.

Meanwhile, PYMNTS wrote earlier this week about the way deepfake technology has allowed cyber criminals to become more convincing and sophisticated in their scams.

For example, AI now lets them impersonate others with remarkable accuracy, making it increasingly difficult for even the most digitally savvy individuals to spot, Kate Frankish, chief business development officer and anti-fraud lead at Pay.UK, said in an interview.

“The more sophisticated these types of frauds get, the more difficult it is for even the savviest person to understand that actually, this doesn’t feel right. It’s not real,” Frankish said, adding that the boundaries between reality and deception continue to erode, leaving victims more and more vulnerable to manipulation.