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Connecticut Senate passes AI bill curbing bias, deep fakes

The Connecticut Senate has passed a bill that seeks to curb bias and discrimination in artificial intelligence (AI) despite lobbying by hundreds of tech firms.

The bill, among the first in the U.S., state or federal, to regulate the rapidly evolving technology, sailed through the Senate 24-12. It divided the legislators along party lines, with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans voting against it.

One of the bill’s most prominent provisions is its crackdown on deepfakes, expanding the criminal laws to include this rising menace. It makes creating and spreading these AI-generated or altered images and videos illegal and requires AI developers to include digital watermarks on AI-generated images.

Deepfakes have become a major AI challenge, and as the technology improves every day, their impact will only get bigger. Some, like Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), believe deepfakes are the biggest challenge facing technology, and they recently called on authorities to implement policies to protect users.

The Connecticut bill also seeks to protect users against bias and discrimination. It requires AI developers “to use reasonable care to protect consumers from any known or reasonably foreseeable risks of algorithmic discrimination.”

Sen. James Maroney, the bill’s primary sponsor, believes that it gives the Constitution State the best opportunity to influence the future of AI.

“We know that nothing we’re doing here today is going to change the world. The world has always been changing and it always will be. Today, we’re doing our piece to make sure the world is changing for the good,” he stated.

Tech giants have backed the bill, with IBM (NASDAQ: IBM) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) among those who reportedly endorsed it. Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), previously opposed to the bill, is now neutral after some of its proposals were incorporated into recent amendments.

However, the Consumer Technology Association, a U.S. trade organization representing over 1,300 tech firms, opposes the bill.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has also opposed the bill, going against his party’s stance. In a statement, the governor’s office claimed that he remains concerned “ that this is a fast-moving space, and that we need to make sure we do this right and don’t stymie innovation.”

Other legislators opposed to the bill believe that while most of its provisions are essential, the bill is being rushed and could stifle innovation.

“I want Connecticut to be known as a state where it’s exciting for entrepreneurs to come and come up with new technology. Not a nanny state, where we are going to drill down on every business that has 50 or more employees, saying, ‘What kind of software do you have?” commented Sen. John Kissel (R-Enfield).

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