Vermont considered forerunner in artificial intelligence oversight

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – Vermont is at the forefront when it comes to keeping an eye on artificial intelligence and its use in state government. Legislation from 2022 created an AI Commission and a code of ethics. Now, conversations are happening about how state government will continue to regulate artificial intelligence.

Josiah Raiche is the Vermont AI Director, appointed following the 2022 passage of an AI use and oversight law relating to state government. Vermont was the first in the country to create a dedicated AI state position like this.

“I’d love to see Vermont become a blueprint not only for other states but also for companies, especially in Vermont as they’re looking at how they can apply AI ethically,” said Raiche.

Since 2022, the AI Commission created a code of ethics with the goals of gaining efficiency in government, maintaining data privacy, and preventing bad outcomes. AI is already in use in some day-to-day operations, like in the cybersecurity unit, to detect intruders in the network.

“The Agency of Transportation has been working with UVM on looking at signs on the roadside and identifying what those traffic signs are and what condition they’re in and characterizing them. Before, it was hard to tell when signs needed to be replaced,” said Raiche.

Continued conversations around AI include ensuring the rights of Vermonters are protected, especially as technology evolves.

“We’re trying to be very deliberate about how we regulate and what laws we put forward. Data privacy is a key thing to figure out because that is one of the pieces that cuts no matter what the technology is, right?” said Raiche.

Rep. Brian Cina, P/D-Burlington, was a lead sponsor of the 2022 legislation. He says private sector AI regulation would be implemented federally.

“Inevitably, legislators and the governor will have to make some more decisions as you go down the road about the scope of the regulation of artificial intelligence by the state. However, we may see federal action continue to unfold, especially as AI technology exponentially develops and becomes more widespread and complex,” said Cina.

But, he notes with state government use, public and private regulation is nuanced because many private organizations are affiliated with the state.

“That’s going to spawn discussion about other policy decisions regarding equity, regarding public health, regarding public safety related to these tools. AI technology will allow us to provide things that didn’t exist before, and then we’re gonna come back to the age-old question of the haves and the have-nots,” said Cina.