Mat-Su Valley Sen. Shelley Hughes filed Senate Bill 177 in advance of Tuesday’s legislative session. It addresses state agency potential use of artificial intelligence (AI), data privacy, cybersecurity, and the use of political deepfakes.
A deepfake is an artificial image or video that is generated through machines that are programmed for what is known as “deep” learning. The images and videos produced are increasingly credible to the human eye and brain.
“With the increasing availability of AI to streamline work processes, transparency and guidelines for the use of AI by state agencies is paramount to ensure appropriate deployment and to protect Alaskans from potential harm. By requiring human oversight/responsibility for AI, a publicly posted inventory of AI in use by state agencies, and regular impact assessments – that include a review and public report of benefits, liabilities, risks, accountability mechanisms in place, decision appeal processes, and effects on the liberty, finances, livelihood and privacy interest of individuals among other items – we will ensure AI is working for the people of Alaska appropriately,” Hughes said.
The senator acknowledged that AI cannot be stopped and is already part of daily life. For example, every time a person uses a map program on a smart phone, artificial intelligence is deployed.
“As policymakers, we must work to harness this tool for good and safeguard against bad actors,” Senate Hughes said. “It is also vital we take the individual Alaskan into account; with the vast amount of data state agencies have and may input into algorithms that generate AI outputs, we must ensure data privacy and strong cybersecurity are as airtight as possible.”
Among specific items in the bill is a ban on State of Alaska agencies using a system that employs artificial intelligence for 30 consequential decisions if the system involves 31 (1) biometric identification, including facial recognition, emotion recognition, cognitive behavioral manipulation of individuals or groups, or social scoring.
State agencies would also be banned from using a system that employs artificial intelligence for consequential decisions if the system uses data hosted in the People’s Republic of China, including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macao Special Administrative Region, the Republic of Cuba, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation; or the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela under the regime of Nicolás 13 Maduro Moros.
SB 177 addresses the use of politically motivated deepfakes, digital alterations of a person, usually employed to spread false information with malevolent intentions.
Hughes said that in 2024 will be bombarded with deepfakes and that “it is important the legislature address this relatively new AI phenomenon. With easily accessible AI available to develop deepfakes, the likelihood of their creation during the 2024 election cycle is inevitable.”
Her bill would require a clear disclosure on a political deepfake that the communication has been manipulated by AI.
“Setting parameters for state agencies and protecting Alaskans when it comes to AI – that is the purpose of this legislation. I look forward to a lively discussion with the legislature and citizens about this emerging technology, this digital frontier, as it relates to the public arena,” she said.
Deepfakes are now seen frequently in the presidential campaign, with videos and images of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump frequently altered and posted across social media platforms to turn people against the candidates, based on false information. Deepfakes can also mimic voices and make it appear that someone is saying something they are not saying. They are now used in combination with video image alterations that show a subject’s mouth moving as if he or she is actually speaking the deepfake words.
Hughes is part of what could be described as a super-minority of Republicans in the Senate, comprised of herself, Sen. Mike Shower, and Sen. Rob Myers, all who have been excluded from a majority that is dominated by Democrats but that has eight colluding Republicans in it (Republicans Cathy Giessel, Gary Stevens, Kelly Merrick, James Kaufman, Click Bishop, Jesse Bjorkman, and David Wilson are the minority of the Democrat-dominated Senate Majority.) Hughes, Shower, and Myers are Republicans who were not invited to be part of the majority, as it would have made the majority more conservative.
Because of the exclusion of Hughes from the majority, it’s not certain that the majority leadership will even allow her bill on deepfakes and artificial intelligence to be considered and voted on. That will be at the discretion of Senate President Gary Stevens and Democrat Senate Rules Chair Bill Wielechowski. The bill may be given “death by committee” with numerous committee referrals in order to tamp down Hughes’ voice in the Senate.
Because this is the second session of the 33rd Legislature, if SB 177 does not pass this year, it will die and supporters would have to filed it anew in 2025, after this year’s election is far in the rearview mirror.