Roadblocks to Regulation

Most U.S. state agencies use AI without limits or oversight. An investigative report probed reasons why efforts to rein them in have made little headway.

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What’s new: Since 2018, nearly every proposed bill aimed at studying or controlling how state agencies use automated decision systems, or ADS, has failed to be enacted, according to The Markup , a nonprofit investigative tech-journalism site. Insiders blame big tech.

Why it matters: China, the European Union, and the United Kingdom have announced laws designed to rein in AI’s influence in business, society, and other domains. The lack of such limits in the U.S. make it an outlier. On one hand, this leaves the authorities free to experiment and perhaps discover productive use cases. On the other, it invites abuse — or simply lack of quality control over a technology that has great potential for both good and ill.

We’re thinking: Regulation done badly is a drag on progress. Done right, though, it can prevent harm, level the playing field for innovators, and ensure that benefits are widespread. The AI community should push back against special interests — even when we would profit — that stymie regulation that would be good for society.

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