Than the USA As the federal government struggles to meaningfully regulate AI — or even function at all — New York City is stepping into the governance gap.
The city introduced AI action plan This week, Mayor Eric Adams is calling it a first of its kind in the nation. The approximately 40 policy initiatives are intended to protect residents from harm such as bias or discrimination caused by AI. This includes developing standards for AI acquired by city authorities, as well as new mechanisms to measure the risk of AI used by city authorities.
AI regulation in New York could soon be expanded even further. City Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez, chair of the panel’s Technology Committee, today introduced legislation that would create an Office of Algorithmic Data Integrity to oversee AI in New York.
If established, the office would provide a point of contact for citizens to receive complaints about automated decision-making systems of public authorities and act as an ombudsman for algorithms in the five boroughs. AI systems would also be checked for bias and discrimination before use by the city.
Several U.S. senators proposed creating a new federal agency to regulate AI earlier this year, but Gutiérrez says she learned there was no point waiting for action in Washington, DC. “We have a unique responsibility because a lot of innovation lives here,” she says. “It’s really important for us to take the lead.”
Gutiérrez supports mandatory testing of algorithms used by city government because AI is starting to become widespread, she says. Municipal authorities are interested in using AI software for administrative tasks, such as assessing the risk of a child becoming a victim of abuse or determining student learning rates. She is also suspicious of Mayor Eric Adams’ penchant for technologies like robot dogs and AI Make robocalls in languages he doesn’t speak. New York City has a reputation for being a testing ground for surveillance technology, from the recent surge in drone use to the questionable use of facial recognition Housing and stadiums as well as by the police.
New York was already ahead of the federal government on AI regulation before this week. A city Task force was founded in 2018 to evaluate the use of the technology. Earlier this year, a law came into effect requiring that hiring algorithms used by companies be checked for bias. However, some protective measures have been withdrawn. In January 2022, Adams cancelled an implementing regulation signed by his predecessor, Bill de Blasio, who created an Algorithm Management and Policy Commissioner to work with city agencies on the equitable deployment of AI. A 2020 report by the official said city agencies used 16 types of algorithms that may have had significant impacts on people’s rights, but did not examine every AI model used by the New York City Police Department.
Gutiérrez says she still doesn’t have a full understanding of the algorithms used by city agencies. A Audit published in February The New York State Comptroller found that the city is taking an ad hoc and incomplete approach to AI governance. It warned that this meant the city “cannot ensure that the city’s use of AI is transparent, accurate, unbiased and avoids disparate impact.”