Washington AI Regulation

Washington State Issues Generative AI Ethics Guidelines

Washington state is taking steps to ensure the responsible adoption of generative AI within government agencies. Governor Jay Inslee signed an executive order directing the development of policies and procedures for procuring, implementing, and monitoring AI systems this week, aiming at preemptively stopping potential problems that the technology might cause for state officials and agencies.

WA AI Rules

Inslee’s order tasks the state’s technology agency, WaTech, with submitting a plan to identify potential AI applications that could benefit state operations. It calls for creating initial standards around AI procurement and oversight. The process will decide whether to incorporate generative AI tools into government agencies and the best methods to do so. The state hopes to tap the promise of AI while establishing guardrails against risks like biases and misuse.

“This executive order lays out a year-long process for agencies working together to assess the feasibility, benefits, and challenges of integrating this technology into agency operations and services,” Inslee said when signing the order. “It’s our duty to the public to be thorough and thoughtful in how we adopt these powerful new tools.”

While generative AI holds the potential to automate tasks and enhance services, Inslee noted models still have limitations in quality, security, and fairness. Recent issues like AI chatbots giving harmful responses demonstrate the need for governance. The order also requires analysis of how generative AI may impact vulnerable communities and the workforce, enlisting the Office of Equity to oversee an accountability framework for ethical deployment. The state also plans to expand AI research partnerships and integrate the tech into education. Notably, the executive order matches similar projects in California and elsewhere.

The executive order is far from premature, despite the relatively recent explosion of generative AI tools. Inslee is the tenth governor to issue an executive order for generative AI but arguably has the most thorough example of the bunch. And with deepfake political ads pushing OpenAI, Google, and other developers to come up with strategies to limit misuse of LLMs, a functioning regulatory infrastructure is likely to be welcomed by the companies behind generative AI tools. It would also align with the set of safety and responsibility principles that many generative AI companies pledged to uphold over the summer.

“With today’s action, Washington state is moving to the fore of policy work on this crucial 21st Century challenge,” Inslee said. “The work we do around generative AI over the coming year will be yet another example of how the Evergreen State is also the Ever Forward State.”


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