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Newsom seeks to shape future of AI with executive order

Over the next several months, the Golden State will examine different aspects of AI and how it could impact Californians.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed an executive order focused on artificial intelligence and how the state will use it, while protecting itself and Californians in the future.

Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) will transform business and government around the state and world. It’s expected to speed advances in fields like medicine, climate science, and wildfire forecasting and prevention, Newsom said.

Newsom in his order seeks to shape the future of “ethical, transparent and trustworthy AI,” and maintain California’s status as the world’s leader in the field.

“This is a potentially transformative technology — comparable to the advent of the internet — and we’re only scratching the surface of understanding what GenAI is capable of,” Newsome said in a statement. “We recognize both the potential benefits and risks these tools enable."

A well-known example of GenAI is ChatGPT, a chatbot that can answer questions with some limitations. It can also create computer code, as well as write poems, songs and essays.

Billions of dollars are invested into AI companies. Newsom said that 35 of the top 50 AI companies are in California. The state also has a quarter of all AI patents, conference papers and companies across the world.

The governor’s order calls for a series of reports and partnerships. A report is due in two months that will detail significant and likely beneficial uses for GenAI by state government. It will also include possible risks that people, communities, governments and state workers face.

By March 2024, a joint-risk analysis will occur of possible threats and vulnerabilities by GenAI to the state’s critical energy infrastructure, including those that could develop into mass casualty events and environmental emergencies. The governor will receive a classified briefing. Public recommendations will be given on any steps that must be taken.  

Additionally, the state will examine guidelines for procuring, using and training on GenAI in the public sector. Agencies would give state-approved GenAI trainings to reach equitable outcomes.

Deadlines will follow through 2024 and into 2025.

“We’re neither frozen by the fears nor hypnotized by the upside,” Newsom said. “We’re taking a clear-eyed, humble approach to this world-changing technology. Asking questions. Seeking answers from experts.”

The governor also has called on the state to build partnerships with the University of California, Berkeley’s College of Computing, Data Science, and Society; and Stanford University’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. Newsom called the colleges home to world-leading GenAI research institutions.

DJ Patil, inaugural dean’s fellow with Berkeley’s college and the first U.S. chief data scientist, compared the use of GenAI to asking Google Maps the fastest route.

For example, researchers may be looking for a new drug compound. To achieve that, they need to design a protein that contains specific constraints. GenAI could help them do that.

It also could help with charting the anticipated spread of a virus like Covid-19, deliver better climate risk assessments and design buildings that are more resilient to earthquakes.

“Could we be smarter in the deployment of our resources?” Patil asked.

Patil was on a team that created predictive charts in the early days of Covid-19, when the first cruise ships with known cases reached land. GenAI could have vastly enhanced the information they had, providing quick insights they didn’t have at the time.

Also important to Patil is how people could be better served by GenAI.

“How do we deliver better services to Californians?” he asked.

Artificial intelligence could hasten the online process of obtaining benefits and detect fraud, he said.

Categories / Government, Regional, Science, Technology

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