New York Commission to Study Artificial Intelligence, Robots

The newly codified group will investigate how automation, artificial intelligence and other emergent technologies could be regulated, while at the same time examining how the technologies could benefit economic growth.

As artificial intelligence, automation and robotics become more ubiquitous, New York is preparing for the future with a new group that will study their economic impact and potential.   

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of the New York State Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation Commission July 24, signing into law Senate and Assembly companion bills associated with the group introduced earlier this year.  

The legislation creates a temporary commission that will be responsible for looking at current state laws relative to the new technologies, while also studying policies in other states, as it seeks to create a regulatory framework to deal with them, according to the bill text

At the same time, the commission will also study the possible economic impact of AI and automation, its capability for disruption as well as its potential as a driver for business. The impact of potential regulations on the current and future markets will also be a focus, as will potential legal punishments for crimes related to AI and robotics. 

"Artificial intelligence and automation are already having a profound impact across many industries and their influence keeps growing, so it's critical that we do everything in our power to understand their capabilities and potential pitfalls," Cuomo said in a statement. "This new commission will look closely at how these rapidly evolving technologies are functioning and report back on how we can optimize use to benefit New Yorkers and our economy." 

In recent years, many states have created or considered task forces and working groups to study the effects of emergent technologies, including AI and robotics, and others like blockchain.

The commission will be composed of 13 members selected by the governor and other government officials, and will ultimately be responsible for delivering a report on their findings to the governor and Senate and Assembly leaders just before December of 2020, when the group is scheduled to be dissolved. 

Experts and academics have predicted that automation and AI could have a dramatic and disruptive effect on the American economy and workforce. Similarly, as predictions of their disruptive potential have grown, so, too, has global public and private interest. Government and corporate commissioned studies of artificial intelligence increased significantly in the U.S., Europe and China over the past eight years — more than doubling in many cases, according to a recent study by the Stanford University affiliated Artificial Intelligence Index.  

Sen. Diane J. Savino, chair of the Senate Committee on the Internet and Technology and the bill's primary sponsor, said that the commission would help lawmakers keep abreast of technological change. 

"Artificial intelligence is an essential part of the workforce now. We cannot fear a future in which machines evolve beyond humans, so let's get ahead of the curve and study the issue," Savino said in a statement. "We're going to put experts in the field in a situation to help the state and workforce excel." 

Lucas Ropek is a former staff writer for Government Technology.
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