Stephanie Deitrick, the chief data and analytics officer for the city of Tempe, Arizona, knew that it was crucial to develop an AI policy before the unexpected consequences of AI technology caught up with them. However, when ChatGPT was released, the technology proliferated rapidly, and the need for AI regulation became even more urgent.
The adoption of AI policies by local governments across the United States is a response to the lack of national or transnational guidance on AI governance. This decentralized approach to AI leadership, called “AI localism” by Mona Sloane, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia, is gaining momentum.
Cities such as Boston, New York, Seattle, and San Jose have recently implemented guidelines and policies addressing AI and generative AI tools like ChatGPT. However, with the absence of an AI law at the federal level, local authorities are taking the initiative to regulate AI technology.
To assist local governments in developing effective AI policies, MetroLab Network, a nonprofit organization, is working with 45 municipal governments to create policy guidance by next summer. The goal is to provide cities with a standardized framework for understanding the potential of AI in improving city services while being aware of potential risks.
While the pressure to act swiftly and responsively comes from both the tech industry and the public, cities are prioritizing the ethical use of AI tools. They are emphasizing the involvement of human decision-making in AI oversight and ensuring that efficiency does not override basic human dignity.
Cities have an opportunity to become test beds for AI technology, evaluating its impact on society and addressing the specific needs of their communities. They can also explore the optimization of services like traffic light management while carefully considering the limitations and potential risks of AI.
Transparency, accountability, lack of discrimination, and sustainability are key factors in evaluating AI initiatives at a local level. The Atlas of Urban AI, a global database of ethical AI projects, showcases 184 initiatives in 66 cities worldwide. However, it is important to expand the reach of these initiatives beyond the Global North to ensure a comprehensive and global approach to AI governance.
As local governments embrace AI, there is a significant opportunity for cities to do more with limited resources. The potential efficiencies offered by generative AI tools can help cities like Williamsport, Pennsylvania, maximize their productivity and streamline processes. However, education and awareness about AI among government officials and the public are crucial to effectively harness its benefits.
While the development of AI policies at the local level is a proactive step, it is essential for national governments to join the conversation and provide guidance. By collaborating and sharing best practices, cities can establish an environment of compliance that sets the standard for AI governance on a larger scale.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What is AI localism?
AI localism refers to the leadership and governance of AI at the local level, primarily driven by cities and municipal governments in the absence of national or transnational guidance.
2. How are cities prioritizing the ethical use of AI?
Cities are emphasizing the involvement of human decision-making in AI oversight and ensuring that efficiency does not come at the expense of basic human dignity. They are also developing policies that promote transparency, accountability, and fairness in AI deployment.
3. How can cities become test beds for AI technology?
Cities can explore the impact of AI tools on their communities and evaluate their effectiveness in improving services. They can also assess the social, economic, and environmental implications of AI while considering the specific needs and concerns of their citizens.
4. What is the role of national governments in AI governance?
National governments play a crucial role in providing guidance and establishing regulations for AI governance. Collaborating with local governments and sharing best practices can ensure a comprehensive and standardized approach to AI governance at a larger scale.
5. What are the key factors to consider in evaluating AI initiatives at the local level?
Transparency, accountability, lack of discrimination, and sustainability are key factors to consider when evaluating AI initiatives. These factors help ensure responsible and ethical use of AI tools in local governance.