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Gov. Abbott signs bill to establish an Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council

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Last month Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2060, which will establish an Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council for the state of Texas. The council will oversee how state agencies are developing and using AI in an effort to make sure that it is done so responsibly.

This comes on the heels of a number of AI-related issues showing up in Texas schools recently, such as a ChatGPT error leading to a number of college students not getting their diplomas. Another a Texas school district embraced AI by offering classes on it over the summer.

Law enforcement has also been impacted by AI – the Austin Police Department is now using AI to help file non-emergency reports.

But with all of this power behind technology comes a lot of risk to things like privacy and civil liberties, which is exactly what Abbott has said that this advisory council aims to protect.

Republican state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione was the author of the bill and he joined Texas Standard to discuss. Listen to the story above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:

Texas Standard: What was the initial idea for authoring this bill? Was there a specific news event that inspired you to do this? 

Rep. Giovanni Capriglione: Well, I have a background in IT and so I’ve been looking at a whole bunch of different systems, including artificial intelligence, and got the chance to look at everything from autonomous vehicles to how it was being used by social media companies. And so all of that really got me interested and I knew that the government should be reviewing this and looking at it.

» RELATED: ‘Mitigating the risk of extinction’: As the capabilities of artificial intelligence grow, so do calls for regulation

Representative, let’s talk about the makeup of this advisory council. How many members are there and where are they from? 

There’s gonna be a total of seven members on the council. There’s going to be four public members: two from academia – one in ethics and one as an expert in AI systems. We’ll have a member from law enforcement and one that’s an expert in constitutional rights. We’ll also have the executive director of our state agency, the Department of Information Resources, along with one member of the House and one member of the Senate.

So when does this bill take effect? Tell us a little bit about the timeline in putting together this advisory council. 

Sure. The governor signed the legislation and turned it into a law and it became effective this month. Now the next steps are for the governor to find four different members – public members of, like you mentioned, academia, ethics, law enforcement, constitutional rights.

The first meeting of the council will be Nov. 1. The speaker of the house and lieutenant governor will pick one legislator from each of the chambers to be co-chairs of that council.

This is obviously developing technology. When you are authoring this bill, how are you determining the kind of oversight that AI needs? How can you be confident that this commission or advisory council will be able to do much? 

Well, the reality is, as people are discovering, artificial intelligence does and will affect every facet of our lives. And so what we tried to do was pick a broad array of individuals who could go and provide information. But that’s not to say the public and other individuals who are experts in artificial intelligence can’t also contribute to the council and we hope that they can and that they will.

Artificial intelligence today is being used on everything from writing essays all the way to law enforcement purposes, right? So it’s broad, but we want to start the conversation and we want to get as much input as we can.

» RELATED: Texas colleges are concerned about ChatGPT. Here’s how the new AI system changes learning.

As we develop the report and the recommendations for the next session, what is your concern specifically that if we don’t have this advisory council in place, what could happen? What is it you’re concerned about?

Well, my concern comes from constituents and others here in Texas who are excited about the technology, right? There’s so many potential benefits. At the same time, there are risks and we’re seeing some of those, right? Everything from maybe biased results all the way to disinformation that can happen – incorrect results.

And so as people become more comfortable with the technology, I think we also have to understand the risks and the pitfalls that can come with it. I mean, you can look at how this is going to affect the workforce, for instance, right?

Typically, traditionally technology has really gone and disrupted lower skilled employees. But with high tech artificial intelligence systems, we’re looking at mid-to-high level skilled individuals who are going to be displaced by this.

» RELATED: What is ChatGPT, and why is it a big deal?

Do you see any particular challenges or opportunities when it comes to AI in Texas? Or are we sort of in the same bucket as everyone else here? 

Texas has, over the past decade or so, become the place for technology companies to seek to relocate. Partly that’s because of our business regulations, our tax policies, our tort reform. So I think we can lead not just on artificial intelligence, but data, algorithms that are used.

A lot of people, when they think of AI, are thinking about ChapGPT, right? That’s a popular thing. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. But most of the current and future work is just below that surface. It’s been worked on for a long time and there’s a lot more effort that’s going to be going on and I see a lot of that happening right here in Texas.

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Amanda Kari McHugh is an intern with the Texas Standard.