Gov. Tina Kotek announced plans for an advisory council that will guide the role of artificial intelligence in state government.

The decision underscores the growing influence of artificial intelligence and its potential to streamline government and make agencies more efficient or create confusion and infringe on privacy protections.

Kotek is charging the Oregon State Government AI Advisory Council with developing a plan for artificial intelligence in state government that values transparency, privacy and equity. It will have up to 15 members.

“Artificial intelligence is an important new frontier, bringing the potential for substantial benefits to our society, as well as risks we must prepare for,” Kotek said in a statement. “This rapidly developing technological landscape leads to questions that we must take head on, including concerns regarding ethics, privacy, equity, security and social change. It has never been more essential to ensure the safe and beneficial use of artificial intelligence.”

At its core, artificial intelligence can mimic human analyses and decision-making while carrying out tasks that society traditionally relies upon people to do. It can be a time saver, for example by transcribing audio into text or sorting through mountains of data to find trends. But in the hands of criminals, it could be deceptive and even put people at risk. With artificial intelligence, they could fake a person’s voice and trick a family into believing their child was kidnapped for a ransom, for example.

Use of AI

The U.S. government has already started using AI software in its work, from health care to transportation to Veterans Affairs. For more details, go here.

There also are privacy concerns about how to manage, store and handle the personal data used in artificial intelligence.

Kotek’s move comes amid widespread government activity to map out a future with artificial intelligence. In 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology released its Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights. The 73-page document, which Kotek’s office cited, also focuses on ethics and how to protect people from harm amid the surge of artificial intelligence.

In September, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sent a request on behalf of all attorneys general to Congress asking elected officials to pass laws that prevent artificial intelligence from harming children.

The council’s work could eventually lead to legislative proposals in Oregon.

That work has started in statehouses in the nation. In 2023, at least 25 states introduced bills about artificial intelligence in 2023, and 15 states passed proposals, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures report. Oregon was not on the list.

In May, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law that requires political ads to disclose when they use artificial intelligence to manipulate and change the way ads make people – especially their opponents – talk and appear, the Spokesman-Review reported.

Oregon doesn’t have a law that addresses the use of deepfake technology in campaign ads, for example, which would involve the creation of believable but fake images or sounds, though existing state laws about false statements in campaign materials could apply depending on the situation, said Laura Kerns, a spokesperson for the Oregon Secretary of State’s office.

One year of work ahead

Through an executive order that creates the council, Kotek is ordering the council to complete an action plan framework within six months of the first meeting. The final recommended action plan is to be submitted to the governor’s office within 12 months of the first meeting.

The goal of the plan is to come up with standards and policies that define what’s acceptable for artificial intelligence usage and how to ethically use it in a way that protects personally identifiable information.

The council’s membership will include Oregon’s state chief information officer, the Oregon state chief data officer, a member from the Governor’s Racial Justice Council, the Department of Administrative Services cultural change officer and another agency representative that Kotek will pick.

Kotek will appoint another eight members who can potentially come from community organizations, universities or local government agencies.

Kotek will pick the council members within a few months. The governor’s office hasn’t yet decided whether there will be an application process for people interested in serving, said Elisabeth Shepard, a spokesperson for Kotek.

Legislative leaders will pick two members. Senate President Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, and the House Speaker Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, will each appoint one member.

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