Utah launches ‘first-in-the-nation’ Office of Artificial Intelligence Policy

'We need tech, and we need it to work for us, so we wanted to make sure that we would have appropriate guardrails in place to enable that trust in technology' - Margaret Busse

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Office of Artificial Intelligence (OAIP), which organizers have dubbed the ‘first-in-the-nation’ office for AI policy, regulation and innovation launched on Monday. 

The new office is committed to creating a regulatory framework for AI that balances the need to protect the public from potential harm while encouraging innovation.

Speakers at the launch event, held at Kiln in Salt Lake City, included Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, Margaret Busse, executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce, Rep. Jeff Moss and Sen, Kirk Cullimore.

Margaret Busse at the Office of Artificial Intelligence Policy launch reception, July 8, 2024. Photo: TownLift // Ashtyn Asay

The OAIP will also utilize a Learning Lab in order to engage with tech companies, stakeholders, and experts to evaluate policy ideas and make recommendations to the Utah State Legislature.

According to Cox, this will enable tech companies to give input on regulations that may have become outdated during the AI boom.

“When I joined the legislature and then became lieutenant governor, we ran into some instances where we had new tech companies coming into the state, or starting here in the state, running up against regulation that was sometimes 40 or 50 years old and not sure how to deal with that,” Cox said. “And we have a legislature that only meets once a year for 45 days.”

The office will be directed by Zach Boyd, a former applied mathematics professor at Brigham Young University. Additional OAIP members include Alice Schwarze, who will serve as an AI research fellow, Brady Young as lead AI legal analyst and Greg Whisenant as AI policy advisor.

“I think we’ve been able to punch above our weight as a state filling this office, because there is a credible belief that we can actually get things done, and that we’re going to move fast and be first movers in this space,” Boyd said.

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