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Unlike Biden and the California Democrats, the AI ​​approach in Texas works

California lawmakers are right to say that the impact of AI technology on civilization requires a policy response, but the response has been a cacophony of burdensome regulations, wokeism, and a fundamental misunderstanding of new technologies.

Take, for example, California's Senate Bill 1047, which recently passed the Senate. It is full of the kind of onerous regulations you'd expect from California. For example, the bill requires AI model developers to demonstrate that there is no possibility that their covered model has a “dangerous capability” before they can begin training it. That's an impossibly high standard for large incumbents and a death knell for smaller competitors.

In addition, the bill codifies the state's vision of a state-owned and hosted cloud platform, CalCompute, that would help “foster equitable innovation” and support the state's $67 billion effort to embed “DEIA.” [diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility] in the state-run enterprise.” This effectively enshrines Google Gemini’s approach of producing exclusively AI-generated images of the black and Native American founding fathers.

California spending billions on a “woke” operating system might seem odd if the race for AI legislation in the US wasn’t driven by the states.

Considering that the most recent significant national technology policy legislation dates back to the 1990s (e.g., the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998), it is no exaggeration to say that the battle over technology policy is now moving to the states. While President Biden signed a largely ceremonial executive order on AI in late 2023, it is devoid of any meaningful substance and peppered with shockingly inappropriate initiatives such as partnering with the CCP on responsible AI development and further liberalizing immigration policy under the guise of expanding the tech talent pool.

And if there's anything the Biden administration has taught us about its approach to border security, it's that the more the stakes are, the more it fails. We can't repeat that mistake on AI regulation, and we can't make an already delicate situation worse by letting California lead the way.

Given the spectacular failure of California and the Biden administration, coupled with the ingredients Texas has at its disposal, the Lone Star State is stepping into the breach to lead the nation with a responsible, innovation-promoting AI regulatory framework.

These ingredients include infrastructure, talent, business environment, scale and, most importantly, the policy landscape that encourages responsible growth. For example, the economic impact of the technology sector in Texas was about $470 billion in 2022, representing 20 percent of the state's GDP, compared to 10 percent in California.

Add to that the enormous energy demands of AI—and Texas generates more than twice as much electricity as the state of California. In terms of tech talent, Texas is not only home to world-class software development programs, but it also dominates the country in job gains through corporate relocation and has brought with it some of the best tech talent in the country.

When it comes to public policy, Texas lawmakers (particularly Republican lawmakers) are taking a thoughtful and collaborative approach, unlike their counterparts in California. In 2023, Texas Rep. Giovanni Capriglione and Senator Tan Parker passed House Bill 2060 to establish an Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council, conducting a series of intensive hearings to evaluate state agencies' use of AI. Then, in 2025, lawmakers will develop legislative recommendations to ensure state agencies use automated decision-making technologies while respecting Texans' civil rights.

Instead of California's approach to digital justice and “wokeism,” Texas will create a national model for public use of AI that focuses on saving taxpayers' money and time while promoting transparency, privacy, and human dignity.

In addition, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan has created a Special Committee on AI and Emerging Technologies, which will provide lawmakers with the opportunity to hold interim hearings on the use of AI in the private sector, where they can continue to hear from a range of experts to balance innovation and consumer protection. Given the staggering range of policy issues that state lawmakers tackle during a legislative session, this provides lawmakers with the opportunity to hear from real experts on the dangers, benefits, and legislative models for AI, rather than industry representatives spouting empty platitudes in support of their employers' financial interests.

Finally, Texas Innovation and Technology Caucus Chair Rep. Capriglione (who is well-versed on thorny technology issues and has championed the nation's strongest consumer privacy law) assembled an impressive group of stakeholders to constructively craft a bill that would serve as the gold standard for responsible AI use in Texas. Importantly, Texas lawmakers like Rep. Capriglione and Sen. Parker have been working on AI legislation since 2022 (first introducing HB 2060 in February 2023) and are patiently studying the issue to get things right, not first.

Unlike the speed-focused legislative approach of states like California, where things happen quickly and then break, Texas's biennial legislative session gives the state's lawmakers the time and opportunities to get comfortable with technology, learn the pros and cons of different legislative frameworks, and avoid the mistakes made in other states by rushing through legislation.

Texas is the only state of its size and influence with a successful record of balancing constitutional and civil liberties protections with innovation and relentless economic growth. These are just some of the key factors responsible for the Texas Miracle. And given the astonishing legislative failures across the country so far and the disregard for humanity shown by many major tech companies in developing AI, it will take another Texas Miracle to create gold-standard legislation for AI oversight.

But as we say in Texas, What starts here changes the world.


David Dunmoyer is campaign director for Better Tech for Tomorrow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He develops conservative technology policy solutions for the Texas Legislature and previously worked for Republican leadership in Washington DC

Anna Harden

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