Communications and Technology

With the Right Approach, Virginia Can Lead a Tech Revolution: Jake Morabito in The Virginian-Pilot

When the AI regulation craze returns next year, Virginia lawmakers have the opportunity to support innovation, improve consumer choice, and remove unnecessary compliance hurdles that could grind innovation to a halt.

Jake Morabito, ALEC’s Communications and Technology Task Force Director, recently authored an op-ed in The Virginian-Pilot analyzing the latest legislative debates on AI and lauding Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s vision to make Virginia a leader in AI technology.

Leading firms like Amazon and Boeing have spurned traditional tech hubs such as San Francisco or Seattle to establish a foundation here in the commonwealth. These moves present Virginia with the opportunity to become a cornerstone for American technology development. However, as lawmakers across the country debate regulations on groundbreaking technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Virginia’s future as a technology leader is far from secure.

One industry group estimates more than 200 AI bills were filed in state legislatures nationwide. Those proposals cover a wide range of topics including AI use in political campaigns, transparency and disclosure requirements, and how government agencies might responsibly implement AI tools to improve services. Unfortunately, those same state lawmakers are entertaining strict, top-down government control of AI development in the name of safety, security and trust.

California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, and Vermont rushed ahead with sweeping proposals to restrict AI use for “consequential decisions” in “high-risk” sectors, especially in education, employment, housing, insurance and health care. These industries are already highly regulated by states, no matter which technology is used, with numerous anti-discrimination and consumer protection statutes that provide victims with legal remedies.

During the 2024 legislative session, Virginia lawmakers had a choice: Support Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s vision to make the commonwealth a national AI leader or drown this promising industry with problematic oversight before it gets off the ground.

Read the full op-ed here.