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Hochul proposes legislation to criminalize AI abuse in New York

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Governor Kathy Hochul has unveiled plans to position New York at the forefront of combating the misuse of artificial intelligence (AI) through comprehensive legislation.

In her 2024 State of the State address delivered on Jan. 9 in Albany, she emphasized the significance of AI, asserting that it represents the most impactful technological advancement since the inception of the internet. Citing staggering market projections, with the global AI market expected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2030, Hochul underscored the imperative for New York to assert leadership in this burgeoning industry.

The proposed legislation, outlined this week, aims to establish New York as a national leader in AI regulation by implementing stringent measures against AI-related misconduct. These regulations would introduce criminal penalties, significantly expanding existing statutes to encompass offenses such as unauthorized AI use, impersonation, identity theft, and the dissemination of counterfeit images, videos, or audio recordings.

Assemblyman Alex Bores of Manhattan, a sponsor of separate AI regulation legislation, voiced support for Hochul’s initiative, particularly highlighting provisions mandating political campaigns to adhere to enhanced disclosure laws if AI is employed in communications preceding elections. Bores emphasized the pervasive threat posed by deep fakes and the urgent need for regulatory intervention to safeguard against their proliferation.

Daniel Colson, founder of the Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute, emphasized the necessity for proactive governmental action to mitigate AI-related risks. Colson stressed the importance of not only penalizing AI abuse retroactively but also holding companies accountable during the technology’s development phase. He underscored the significance of rigorous testing and evaluation protocols to ascertain and address potential security and national security implications.

Governor Hochul’s proposal includes the establishment of “Empire AI,” a consortium comprising both public and private universities, dedicated to advancing AI research within the state. Hochul aims to position New York as a hub for AI innovation, partnering with leading tech companies like Microsoft and Open AI to bolster research efforts. This initiative aligns with public sentiment, as Colson noted widespread concerns regarding the responsible stewardship of AI technologies by private entities.

In light of escalating apprehensions regarding the unbridled growth of AI, Hochul has prioritized swift legislative action, urging the state legislature to endorse her proposals before the onset of the next election cycle. With the stakes high and technological advancements rapidly outpacing regulatory frameworks, Hochul’s push for comprehensive AI legislation underscores New York’s commitment to fostering responsible AI development and safeguarding against its misuse.

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