We Need Federal Preemption of State & Local AI Regulation

by on January 22, 2024 · 0 comments

In my latest column for The Hill, I explore how “State and Local Meddling Threatens to Undermine the AI Revolution” in America as mountains of parochial tech mandates accumulate. We need a federal response, but we’re not likely to get the right one, I argue.

I specifically highlight the danger of new measures from big states like NY and California, but it’s the patchwork of all the state and local regs that will result in a sort of ‘death-by-a-thousand-cuts’ for AI innovation as the red tape grows and hinders innovation and capital formation.

What we need is the same sort of principled, pro-innovation federal framework or AI that we adopted for the Internet a generation ago. Specifically, we need some sort of preemption of most of the state and local constraints on what is inherently national (and even global) commerce and speech.

Alas, Congress appears incapable of getting even basic things done on tech policy these days. As far as I can tell, not a single AI bill in front of Congress today would preempt most of this state and local AI regulatory activity.

Worse yet, if Congress did somehow pass anything on AI right now, it’d probably just include even more anti-innovation mandates and agencies without preempting any of the state and local ones. Thus, America would just be piling bad mandates on top of bad mandates until we basically become like Europe, where innovation goes to die under piles of bureaucratic red tape.

It’s a miserable state of affairs with horrible consequences for the U.S. as global competition from China heats up on the AI front. America is sacrificing its competitive advantage on digital technology because fear-based thinking and partisan politics continue to prevent the adoption of a principled, bipartisan vision for artificial intelligence policy.

See my new Hill column for more discussion, and also make sure to check out my earlier Hill essay on “A balanced AI governance vision for America,” as well as these two big R Street Institute reports from last year about how Congress can craft sensible, pro-innovation AI policy for America:

And here is some additional reading on the dangerous regulatory situation we are facing today in terms of over-regulating artificial intelligence by treating innovators as guilty until proven innocent. America is about to shoot itself in the foot as the global race begins for the more important technological revolution of our lifetime:

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