Florida Legislature Eyes AI Issues in 2024
TALLAHASSEE — As access to artificial intelligence, or AI, continues to spread, state lawmakers are poised to consider ways to set up guardrails around a technology that one senator said has “outpaced government regulation.”
Measures filed by Senate and House Republicans target issues such as potential defamation of people using AI in media, use of the technology in political advertising, and the creation of a state council that would look at potential legislative reforms.
House leaders are gearing up to make sure AI can continue to be developed and used in ways that are beneficial to Floridians while trying to rein in AI where lawmakers feel it’s appropriate.
With a presidential election on the horizon in 2024, one of the proposals up for consideration during the legislative session that starts next month seeks to ensure that voters know when they’re seeing AI-created images or text in campaign advertisements.
Sen. Nick DiCeglie, R-Indian Rocks Beach, filed a proposal (SB 850) focused on AI in political advertisements. The bill targets ads made with what is known as generative artificial intelligence, which allows users to input prompts resulting in generated content that can depict nearly anything a user desires.
“The increasing access to sophisticated Al-generated content threatens the integrity of elections by facilitating the dissemination of misleading or completely fabricated information that appears more realistic than ever. The technology that produces this content has advanced rapidly and outpaced government regulation,” DiCeglie said in a press release after the bill was released this month.
Generative AI has become widely accessible through programs such as ChatGPT, which generates text. Under DiCeglie’s proposal, ads that contain images, video, audio or text generated by such technology must be accompanied by a disclaimer.
“Created in whole or in part with the use of generative artificial intelligence (AI),” such disclaimers would say.
“The bill respects First Amendment rights by simply requiring a disclaimer and not prohibiting or limiting the content of the ad,” DiCeglie’s press release said.
Violations of the measure could lead to civil penalties — including fines — similar to other elections-related offenses. Rep. Alex Rizo, R-Hialeah, has filed a similar bill (HB 919).
Rep. Alex Andrade, a Pensacola Republican, also has filed a measure (HB 757) that could lead to people being subject to liability if they use AI to depict someone else in a “false light.”
The proposal, in part, would apply to situations where people use AI to “create or edit” media that “leads a reasonable viewer to believe something false” about another person. What is presented in a false light would have to be “highly offensive to a reasonable person,” and the creator would have to have “knowledge of or acted in reckless disregard as to the false implications of the media,” according to the bill.
Not everyone agrees, however, that AI should be regulated at the state level.
“I think the Legislature is treading into a politically popular area, but not necessarily one where the law doesn’t already cover it, or where there should be a specific targeting on AI,” former state Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican who now heads a group called the Florida Policy Project that researches critical legislative issues, told The News Service of Florida in a recent interview.
While lawmakers intend to focus on AI in the legislative session that begins Jan. 9, Brandes said “big data was there before” now.
“There’s a constant chip away at trying to address technology issues. And, frankly, state law is a crude tool to do that. If you’re going to deal with technology issues, it has to be done really on a national or federal basis,” Brandes said. “And even then, we’ve seen little effect to address it. People have the right to free speech. Free speech includes art. Art is protected as speech.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, filed a proposal (SB 972) designed to create a statewide council that, in part, would oversee the use of artificial intelligence by state agencies. The Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council would be housed within the state Department of Management Services.
Under the bill, the proposed council’s tasks would include assessing “the need for legislative reform and the creation of a state code of ethics for the use of artificial intelligence systems in state government.”
The council also would be required to prepare reports for the governor and legislative leaders that would recommend policies such as protecting the “privacy and interests of the residents of this state from any negative effects caused by artificial intelligence systems.”
The measure calls for the council to be composed of eight members — two members each from the House and Senate appointed by the House speaker and Senate president, and an “academic professional specializing in artificial intelligence systems who is employed by a public or private” college or university appointed by the governor. The governor also would appoint a “constitutional and legal rights expert,” a “policy expert” and an “expert on law enforcement usage of artificial intelligence systems” to the panel.
Some of the measures also would put definitions of artificial intelligence in state law.
As an example, DiCeigle’s plan would define generative AI as “a machine-based system that can, for a given set of human-defined objectives, emulate the structure and characteristics of input data in order to generate derived synthetic content, including images, video, audio, text, and other digital content.”
Andrade’s measure includes a definition of artificial intelligence as “the theory and development of computer systems that are designed to simulate human intelligence through machine learning and perform tasks that would normally require human involvement, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”
Gruters’ bill would define artificial intelligence systems, in part, as “perceiving an environment through data acquisition and processing and interpreting the derived information to take an action or actions or to imitate intelligent behavior given a specific goal.”
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