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States Lead the Way as Federal Healthcare AI Regulations Stall

 |  June 18, 2024

In response to the slow progress of federal regulations on artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, several states have taken proactive steps to safeguard their residents. Colorado and California, in particular, have emerged as pioneers in this rapidly evolving regulatory landscape.

Colorado Takes a Bold Step

Recently, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law SB 205, marking a significant milestone in state-level AI regulation. According to the New York Times, the legislation addresses concerns surrounding the use of AI in critical decisions affecting education, employment, healthcare, housing, and legal services. Of particular note is its focus on preventing algorithmic bias, especially concerning genetic information, to ensure fair treatment in healthcare settings.

Consumer advocacy group Consumer Reports hailed the Colorado law as the nation’s “first comprehensive AI bias law,” extending crucial protections to citizens against potentially discriminatory AI practices. This move underscores Colorado’s commitment to setting baseline standards amid the absence of federal guidelines.

California’s Ambitious Legislative Agenda

Meanwhile, California has ramped up efforts to fill the regulatory gap with a slew of proposed measures aimed at governing AI technologies. Building on its stringent 2020 data privacy laws, the state has introduced approximately 30 bills focusing on various facets of AI regulation. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, chair of the California State Assembly’s Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, emphasized the state’s proactive stance in protecting its citizens, citing the federal government’s inaction as a catalyst for state-level intervention.

Related: New Report Says AI Regulations Lag Behind Industry Advances

California’s legislative push reflects a broader trend across the United States, where over 400 AI-related bills have been proposed this year alone. Matt Perault from the University of North Carolina highlighted the legislative fervor, indicating widespread interest among lawmakers in establishing robust safeguards for AI applications.

Federal Inaction Spurs State Initiatives

The federal government’s sluggish pace in formalizing AI regulations has spurred states to take matters into their own hands, reported The New York Times. While draft legislation has been introduced at the federal level, concrete action has yet to materialize. The Biden administration’s executive order from last year, mandating federal agencies to develop AI standards, represents a step forward but falls short of comprehensive regulatory oversight.

Experts caution that federal legislation on AI may remain elusive in the near term, leaving states like Colorado and California to lead the charge in setting precedent-setting rules. Nicol Turner Lee of the Brookings Institution noted that California, in particular, holds significant influence over AI governance due to its proactive legislative agenda.

Looking Ahead

As states forge ahead with their own AI regulations, the landscape of healthcare and other critical sectors will likely see evolving standards and practices. The divergent approaches between states and the federal government highlight the complexity and urgency of establishing a cohesive national framework for AI governance.

Source: NY Times