Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed legislation establishing the Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council, which will study and monitor artificial intelligence (AI) technology developed, employed, or procured by Texas state agencies.

“As AI becomes more prevalent as a revolutionary tool in our lives and in our workforce, we must ensure that this technology is developed in a responsible and ethical way in Texas to help boost our state’s growing economy,” said Governor Abbott.

“To protect Texans’ privacy and basic civil liberties, I signed legislation creating the Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council to study and monitor artificial intelligence systems developed or used by our state agencies,” the governor said. “The council will help cement Texas’ position as a national leader in innovative technology, ensuring our state continues designing and employing the latest and greatest AI technology while prioritizing the security of all Texans.”

The legislation – House Bill 2060 – attracted bipartisan support in both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas State Senate.

The governor’s office said in a press release that the seven-member council will provide additional oversight to ensure AI systems are developed in a responsible and ethical manner to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Texans.

According to the legislation, the council will be made up of:

  • An academic expert specializing in ethics, appointed by the governor;
  • An academic expert specializing in AI systems, appointed by the governor;
  • An expert in law enforcement usage of AI, appointed by the governor;
  • An expert in constitutional and legal rights, appointed by the governor;
  • The executive director of the Department of Information Resources, or their designee;
  • A member of the House of Representatives, appointed by the speaker; and
  • A member of the Senate, appointed by the lieutenant governor.

The legislation tasks the council with studying and monitoring AI systems developed, employed, and procured by state agencies. Specifically, the council will assess the need for a state code of ethics for AI in state government, review automated decision systems, evaluate potential benefits and risks as a result of implementing automated decision items, and recommend administrative actions state agencies may take to ensure AI systems are thoughtfully and ethically developed.

The council is required to submit a report to the state legislature by December 1, 2024, summarizing its findings and making policy recommendations. Under the current bill, the council will sunset on January 1, 2025.

The legislation also requires all legislative and executive agencies to submit an inventory report on any automated decision systems (ADS) used by the agency. The inventory reports submitted by state agencies must include a description of each ADS, including its name and vendor, general capabilities, types of data inputs, and potential impact on constitutional or legal rights, duties, or privileges of Texas residents. According to Abbott’s office, the council will review these reports, assess their impact on the liberty, finances, livelihood, and privacy interests of Texas residents, and make recommendations.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs