Governor Abbott Signs Bill to Establish Houston Public Media Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence forage

Last month, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2060 into law, which will establish an Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council for the state of Texas. The council will oversee how state agencies are developing and using AI in an effort to make sure this is done responsibly.

This comes on the heels of a number of AI-related issues that have been cropping up in Texas schools recently, such as a ChatGPT bug that resulted in a number of college students not getting their degrees. Another Texas school district has embraced AI by offering lessons over the summer.

Law enforcement has also been impacted by AI, the Austin Police Department now uses AI to help file non-emergency reports.

But with all this power behind the technology it comes with a lot of risks to things like privacy and civil liberties, which is exactly what Abbott said this advisory board aims to protect.

Republican State Representative Giovanni Capriglione authored the bill and joined the Texas Standard to discuss it. Listen to the story above or read the transcript below.

This transcription has been slightly edited for clarity:

Texas Standard: What was the initial idea for creating this bill? Was there a specific news event that inspired you to do it?

Representative Giovanni Capriglione: Well, I have a background in IT and so I’ve looked into a bunch of different systems, including artificial intelligence, and I’ve had a chance to look at everything from autonomous vehicles to how it’s being used by social media companies. And so that really interested me and I knew that the government should review and look at it.

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Representative, let’s talk about the composition of this advisory board. How many members are there and where do they come from?

There will be a total of seven members on the board. There will be four public members: two from academia, one in ethics, and one as an AI systems expert. We’ll have a law enforcement officer and a constitutional rights expert. We will also have the executive director of our state agency, the Information Resources Department, along with a member of the House and a member of the Senate.

So when will this bill go into effect? Tell us a little about the timeline for putting this advisory council together.

Safe. The governor signed the legislation into law and it went into effect this month. Now the next steps for the governor is to find four different public member members of, as you mentioned, academia, ethics, law enforcement, constitutional rights.

The first board meeting will be on November 1st. The speaker of the house and the lieutenant governor shall choose one legislator from each of the houses to co-chair that council.

This is obviously the development of technology. When you create this bill, how are you determining what kind of oversight AI needs? How can you be sure that this commission or advisory council will be able to do a lot?

Well, the reality is, as people are discovering, AI affects and will affect every aspect of our lives. And so what we’ve tried to do is pick a broad range of people who could go and provide information. But that’s not to say that the public and other AI-savvy individuals can’t contribute to the board as well, and we hope they can and that they do.

AI today is being used on everything from essay writing to law enforcement, right? So that’s broad, but we want to get the conversation going and we want to get as much input as possible.

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As we develop the report and recommendations for the next session, what is your specific concern that if we don’t have this advisory council, what could happen? What are you worried about?

Well, my concern comes from voters and others here in Texas who are excited about the technology, right? There are so many potential benefits. At the same time, there are risks and we’re seeing some of them, right? Everything from possibly biased results to misinformation that can lead to incorrect results.

And so, as people become more comfortable with technology, I think we also need to understand the risks and pitfalls that can come with it. I mean, you can see how that’s going to affect the workforce, for example, right?

Typically, technology has traditionally really disappeared and disrupted less skilled employees. But with high-tech AI systems, we’re looking at upper-middle-level skilled individuals who will be displaced by this.

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Do you see any particular challenges or opportunities when it comes to AI in Texas? Or are we pretty much in the same bucket as everyone else here?

Texas has, over the past decade, become where tech companies look to relocate. Part of that is due to our corporate regulations, our tax policies, our liability reform. So I think we can drive not only on AI, but also on data, on algorithms that are used.

Most people, when they think of AI, think of ChapGPT, right? This is a popular thing. This is just the tip of the iceberg. But most current and future work is just below that surface. It’s been worked on for a long time and there’s a lot more effort to be done and I see a lot of things happening right here in Texas.

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