Governors Discuss Artificial Intelligence Risks and Regulatory Priorities

Washington, DC – During the annual Winter Meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA), Governors welcomed tech pioneer Marc Andreessen for a discussion on the potential risks and benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. With no overarching federal regulations on AI, states are taking the lead to set policies to take advantage of the benefits of AI and put safeguards in place against its risks.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum moderated a conversation with Andreessen that focused on harnessing the advantages of AI to enhance U.S. competitiveness while protecting consumers from risk.

Governor Burgum explained how Governors are applying AI to improve efficiency in state government and explored AI’s potential impacts on workforce issues, stating: “In our lifetime, every job, every company, every industry has been transformed by technology. Now we have something more powerful, that’s being adopted at a faster rate than cell phones, the internet or personal computers. Is the AI revolution going to [increase] productivity, or are we going to regulate ourselves in such a way that we have slower growth than we could be achieving? As operating leaders that run state government, Governors always apply technology to be better, faster, more efficient, more responsive to the citizens. Governors are always competing with each other for jobs and talent and capital to come to our states. But part of that competition is going to shift to who is going to have the framework, the education system that is producing the workforce, the human capital that actually understands this.” 

Andreessen explained the technology sector perspective on potential regulatory approaches, stating: “Fundamentally, there are two different regulatory approaches on how to deal with these technologies. One is to regulate the technologies themselves. A lot of the proposals on regulating AI have to do with things like: regulating what can go into chips, regulating who can buy chips, how they get used; regulating software, regulating open-source software, deciding who can actually download open-source software, who can use it, who can write it. The other approach is regulating the uses. That approach [focuses on scenarios such as using AI to] make it easier to plan a bank robbery. Well, it turns out bank robbery is already illegal. Invasion of consumer privacy is already illegal. Medical fraud is already illegal. The good news is, in this country we already have a robust set of laws and regulations for basically all or most of the downside scenarios – either at the law enforcement level for domestic issues or intelligence capabilities for dealing with things at the global level. I think it’s far more effective to regulate the uses since you’re addressing the actual issues. It also preserves the underlying fundamental opportunity in all the positive cases [without] choking off the technology itself.” 

Andreessen concluded: “At the end of the day, we’re going to have to decide as a country: Are we in new technologies to win them? We are so used to America being technologically dominant, which means economically dominant, which also means militarily dominant. We’re so used to that. It’s been the case for 80 years. We have to figure out how to win, how to have American enterprise win, and the American people win in this, while also dealing with the downside cases.”

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, NGA Chair Utah Governor Spencer Cox, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon also shared insights on what their states are doing to implement effective AI policies.