CSAC Bulletin Article

Santa Cruz County Visits the White House for Landmark Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence

November 9, 2023

A New Era of Artificial Intelligence Spurs Policy Initiatives

Last week, President Biden signed an Executive Order on the “safe, secure, and trustworthy development and use of artificial intelligence (AI).” The strategies and directives included in the Executive Order are sweeping and comprehensive, affecting private industry, public agencies, and consumers.

In attendance at the White House for the release of the Executive Order included Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend (District 2), who shared with the federal Administration how county governments can help shape the AI regulatory framework moving forward.

Major components of the Executive Order of note for counties includes:

  • Requirement that developers of the most powerful AI systems share their safety test results and other critical information with the U.S. government.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology will set rigorous standards for extensive testing to ensure safety before public release of AI systems.
  • The Department of Commerce will develop guidance for content authentication and watermarking to clearly label AI-generated content.
  • Developing best practices on the use of AI in sentencing, parole and probation, pretrial release and detention, risk assessments, surveillance, crime forecasting and predictive policing, and forensic analysis.
  • Produce a report on AI’s potential labor-market impacts, and study and identify options for strengthening federal support for workers facing labor disruptions, including from AI.

Immediately following the announcement of the federal Executive Order on AI, the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a complementary draft policy on “advancing governance, innovation, and risk management for federal agency use of artificial intelligence.” The OMB’s draft policy on federal agency use of AI does not, at this point, appear to mandate how states or local governments regulate use of AI systems within their jurisdictions. CSAC will closely monitor the development of state and federal policies on use of AI systems and evaluate the impact to county governance. OMB is accepting public comment on the draft policy until December 5, 2023.

{Photos courtesy of Supervisor Zach Friend}

Meanwhile, Back in California

The federal Executive Order on AI comes on the heels of Executive Order N-12-23 signed by Governor Newsom in September 2023, as previously reported by CSAC, which creates a framework for the state to develop an informed, evidence-based, and formal process to develop policy recommendations for the responsible use of AI. Although the state’s actions and the structure of the Executive Order are similar to the federal Executive Order, the state takes the extra step of evaluating the impacts of AI on issues specific to California, and acknowledges our state’s unique role as the “global hub for generative artificial intelligence.”

Of particular note to local governments, the state Executive Order includes specific language clarifying that “Nothing in this Order shall be construed to allow the application of state funds by localities in the procurement of GenAI technologies.” (i.e., Local governments may not use state funds to procure AI until the state issues general guidelines for public sector of procurement AI technologies). 

Local Leadership on AI Policy Development

Prior to the release of state and federal orders on AI, Santa Cruz County forged a path for local government action on AI technologies by initiating development of county policies in June 2023. The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors adopted their Artificial Intelligence Appropriate Use policy three months later in September 2023.  According to Santa Cruz County, “The policy allows and encourages the continued use of AI in County operations while providing guidelines to avoid misuse and the sharing of sensitive information, and to continue to center human judgment in core decisions related to local government operations.”

AI at CSAC’s 2023 Annual Meeting

Counties can learn more about AI during CSAC’s 129th Annual Meeting in Alameda County next week! Erica Orange is the keynote speaker on Wednesday, November 15. She is Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the futurist consulting firm The Future Hunters. She will share how AI and other emerging technologies are reshaping our world and how counties can adapt in this new reality. We hope to see you there.

We want to connect with you!

If your county is developing policies on AI or evaluating the landscape of AI regulation and their effects on your county governance, please reach out to Kalyn Dean at kdean@counties.org or Jessica Sankus at jsankus@counties.org to share your experience.

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