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Inside Olympia — Artificial Intelligence

How is Washington State responding to the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence, or “AI” for short? We talk with two state lawmakers on the front lines of navigating this brave new world. Plus we check in with the state’s chief privacy officer and chief technology officer.

With the debut of ChatGPT a little over a year ago, public awareness of artificial intelligence skyrocketed, with expansive news coverage of both its benefits and its risks. Our guests this week note that artificial intelligence has actually been around a long time, though the coming of “generative” artificial intelligence like ChatGPT, which creates new, distinctive, non-replicated content, is a new development.

State Representatives Cindy Ryu and Travis Couture are on the front lines, legislatively, of examining this new technology and discussing what legislation and public policies might be needed to deal with AI. Ryu, who chairs the House Innovation, Community & Economic Development & Veterans Committee, says she is excited about the potential of AI, but has concerns over privacy, bias and equity in its use. Couture believes the Legislature should take a “low and slow” approach: avoid adopting far-reaching blanket policies on AI, but deal quickly with specific problems like recent reports of school students using AI for “revenge porn” against fellow students.

And how is state government dealing with artificial intelligence? Governor Inslee recently released an executive order which, in the governor’s words, will “develop guidelines for how the state adopts generative artificial intelligence into its own systems to ensure its ethical and transparent use.” The executive order lays out a year-long process for assessing AI and developing policies to govern its use.

Two of the people most responsible for making that happen in state government are Katy Ruckle, Washington’s Chief Privacy Officer, and Nick Stowe, the state’s Chief Technology Officer. Both discuss their roles in the process, and give examples of how AI could be used by state government – in some “low risk” cases AI may help great with, for instance, paperwork, but in others, where personal information and/or decisions about individuals are involved, the risks are much greater.

Join host Austin Jenkins and our guests this week as we explore the new world of artificial intelligence.