Newsom Report Examines Use of AI by California Government

California Governor Gavin Newsom has released a report examining the beneficial uses and potential harms of artificial intelligence in state government. Potential plusses include improving access to government services by identifying groups that are hindered due to language barriers or other reasons, while dangers highlight the need to prepare citizens with next generation skills so they don’t get left behind in the GenAI economy. “This is an important first step in our efforts to fully understand the scope of GenAI and the state’s role in deploying it,” Newsom said, calling California’s strategy “a nuanced, measured approach.”

“California is home to 35 of the world’s top 50 AI companies,” a news release quotes the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) Director Dee Dee Myers saying. “We’ll continue leading this industry and lifting up workers in the AI economy to create even more demand for businesses to locate and hire here in California.”

Issued last week, the Benefits and Risks of Generative Artificial Intelligence Report says that “with the proper guardrails in place, the revolutionary technology of GenAI can be responsibly used to spur innovation, support the State workforce, and improve Californians’ lives.”

“Generative AI could help quickly translate government materials into multiple languages, analyze tax claims to detect fraud, summarize public comments and answer questions about state services,” the Los Angeles Times says of the 34-page report, which also warns that deploying the technology “comes with concerns around data privacy, misinformation, equity and bias.”

The report was ordered by Newsom in a September 2023 executive order that state agencies prepare findings and recommended use-cases as they prepare for the implementation of generative AI.

“California agencies should deploy humans to review any AI-generated outputs and disclose when they’re using the technology to conduct state business,” Bloomberg writes of the report, adding that because top AI companies including OpenAI are based there, the state “aims to use its purchasing power to influence how the technology is made and used.”

Newsom Deputy Chief of Staff Jason Elliott told Bloomberg California has “one of the largest governments in the world,” procuring “more advanced technology than any sub-national government.” With that in mind, the state hopes its rulemaking “becomes a model for what a number of other governments around the world may pursue in terms of safe, transparent, trustworthy AI.”

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