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Responsible AI legislation that will help small businesses

Responsible AI legislation that will help small businesses

This op-ed was written by Matthew Wallace, CEO and President of VRSim, Inc. It was published in the Hartford Courant.

AI is present in almost every aspect of our lives, and that influence will only grow—it is a bell that cannot be unrung. Rapid, incredible advances seen in the last year or two—from ChatGPT to significant improvements in AI’s application in healthcare and manufacturing—are transforming our world in ways previously unimaginable.

From your Netflix account to your Amazon shopping cart, AI is already in action in the everyday lives of most people. This is why we need to consider not just the impact it is having, but the ramifications as it pairs with other technologies and expands. Look at social media as an example; 15 years ago, with the ascent of Facebook and the later blossoming of TikTok, no one could foresee the consumer privacy and mental health consequences of this rapidly expanding technology. It became even more pronounced when paired with the iPhone in 2007. It changed the world’s landscape even more, and not always for the better.

Little was considered at the time and actions were delayed, which allowed the new technology to grow and expand on its own. Today, parents, citizens, policy makers and users wish that some deliberation had been given and perhaps some actions taken.

That same lens can be used to view Senate Bill 2, legislation seeking to place important guidance and guardrails on the use of AI, currently under consideration by Connecticut’s General Assembly. As the CEO and president of VRSim, a Connecticut company that has worked in the virtual reality and artificial intelligence spaces around the globe for two decades, I know the importance and value of AI and the ways its uses will impact the world in positive ways. I also acknowledge that this technology, when manipulated by bad-faith actors, could intentionally or unintentionally inflict physical, mental or financial harm on individuals, underscoring the critical need for meaningful disclosure, practical safeguards and ethical guidelines.

Oversight can be a positive driving force when done with collaboration, thoughtfulness of purpose and understanding of the potential impact of AI. The guidance and oversight established under SB 2 should help avoid the unforeseen consequences and impacts of these technologies as they continue to be developed and explored.

Action should be viewed as both a tool and a balancing act. It should facilitate the best of forward-looking technology and innovation, while also preventing harm to people and organizations. As a business leader, I support SB 2, as it provides a strong sense of thoughtfully applied direction, helping hone companies’ activities and developments instead of controlling them.

The barriers created in this bill don’t restrict movement as create a clear path for progress, while encouraging broad development of AI for businesses small and large. For small businesses especially, legislation like this should be lauded. It was developed through thoughtful collaboration with all interested parties, and serves as a middle ground where employers, employees, students, educators, parents and lawmakers can appreciate its effects on how we live, work and play in Connecticut.

SB 2 is a signpost, marking the way to responsible, reasonable, and meaningful technological development.

Matthew Wallace is the CEO for VRSim in East Hartford, which designs VR and simulation-based systems to train workers in the skilled trades, including industrial welding and painting, certified nursing assistants and emergency medical responders.

VRSim is a US-company building immersive and practical hands-on teaching tools since 2002.

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