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WA Legislature greenlights AG’s proposal for state AI Task Force

by By Renee Diaz, Columbia Basin Herald
| March 5, 2024 4:49 PM

OLYMPIA — A bipartisan proposal requested by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson to establish an Artificial Intelligence Task Force in the Attorney General’s Office successfully passed in the state senate with a bipartisan 30-19 Monday vote.

"AI is becoming an integral part of our daily lives, and it is our duty to promptly commence thoughtful efforts to ensure the protection of Washingtonians against the risks of this technology while maximizing its benefits," said Ferguson. "I appreciate the Legislature's collaboration, and I look forward to launching an inclusive task force that will develop recommendations to guide public policy in this critical arena."

Senate Bill 5838, sponsored by Sen. Joe Nguyen, D-White Center, will create a task force composed of technology experts, industry representatives, labor organizations, civil liberty groups and other stakeholders. Their primary objective is to discuss the pros and cons of AI and subsequently formulate guiding principles for the Legislature. Rep. Travis Couture, R-Allyn, sponsored the companion bill in the House. The bill had previously passed in the Washington House of Representatives in a 68-28 vote Feb. 29.

AI technology can generate media content such as images, text, or audio. According to a survey by McKinsey & Company, 79% of respondents in North America reported some exposure to generative AI. Of these, 41% claim to use it regularly, with 22% incorporating it into their regular work routines.

"AI is akin to fire, it possesses tremendous potential for both good and bad," Sen. Nguyen remarked. "How we use it and the data we input are incredibly important. This task force will play a crucial role in determining the appropriate legislative response to the proliferation of AI tools and marks a significant stride toward the intelligent, effective use of AI for the people of Washington."

AI has many other uses outside of generative AI that most Washington residents use on a day-to-day basis, though they may not realize it.

The executive committee of the task force will identify public policy issues related to AI, focusing on high-risk concerns, racial equity, and civil liberty matters. Their mandate includes creating regulatory structures and fostering opportunities to support innovation.

The task force is scheduled to convene at least twice a year. Their final report and recommendations are slated to be submitted to the Governor and the Legislature by July 1, 2026.

Common AI: 

• Virtual assistants such as Siri, Alexa and the Google Assistant

• Grammarly and other language and syntax applications

• GPS systems such as Google Maps

• Virtual DJs used by music streaming services

• Face and biometric recognition to secure handheld devices

• Algorithms that manage social media feeds

• Chatbots that help answer questions on the web

• Search engines

• Autofill for text and messenger apps