The Utah Department of Commerce this week established its Office of Artificial Intelligence Policy (OAIP), aiming to shape AI policy in the state.

There has been a lot of debate about the best path forward on AI regulation, and while an executive order from the federal government has helped spur action, many states have established their own safeguards for constituents.

States and localities are increasingly exploring sandbox environments to examine the potential impacts of AI, such as Georgia’s innovation lab and the New York City Public Schools Artificial Intelligence Policy Lab.

Utah has been early to act, establishing a Center of Excellence in AI in 2018 and setting a policy on generative AI in late 2023. Now, the OAIP will facilitate study of AI-related issues, and how the state can most effectively regulate the technologies to mitigate risks. Passage of state Senate Bill 149, which Gov. Spencer Cox signed in March, formally established the office.

“AI is growing rapidly, and we are working to create an environment to ensure its growth and success while taking data privacy and security threats seriously,” Cox said in a post on X.

A key component of the OAIP is the Learning Lab, which will facilitate collaboration between industry experts, academics and regulators to find, and ultimately implement, best practices in AI regulation.

The lab’s first subject area will be the use of AI in health care — with a specific focus on mental health. The state is calling on businesses, academic institutions and other stakeholders with subject matter expertise to apply to participate.

Utah is accepting feedback on what other topics members of the public would like to see the OAIP focus on in the future, and on the specific impacts AI has had on individuals and organizations.

The new office is also authorized to offer regulatory mitigation agreements to lab participants; individuals can share regulatory concerns or regulatory mitigation issues via an online form. This could potentially permit flexibility in specific use cases.

According to a Department of Commerce blog post making the launch official Monday, the OAIP’s Learning Lab enables the state to take an agile approach as new issues arise — a potential way to mitigate risks posed by the technology’s rapid rate of advance. More information can be found on the OAIP website.

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