In the absence of federal regulation on healthcare AI, states are taking matters into their own hands.

Colorado recently signed a law that would regulate AI, including in healthcare.

In May, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed SB 205, which strengthens protections for consumers around how businesses use AI in high-stakes decisions. 

This refers to decisions that would impact a person’s education opportunity, employment, healthcare services, housing or legal services.

As it effects the healthcare industry, the law would regulate how developers address an algorithm’s bias based on genetic information or other data, seeking to prevent discriminatory use of AI.

Nonprofit Consumer Reports applauded the move, noting it was the “first comprehensive AI bias law in the nation” and that “Colorado is the first state in the country to extend baseline protections to its citizens when it comes to high-risk AI-decision technology.”

Meanwhile, California made moves to push some 30 regulatory measures forward that would create guardrails around the innovative technology.

The Golden State started to build upon its 2020 data privacy law by crafting dozens of new AI bills.

Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, chair of the California State Assembly’s Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, noted in a statement that as California has seen with its previous privacy measures, the federal government isn’t going to act on AI, so state lawmakers feel it is critical to step up and “protect our own citizens.”

Other states across the country have proposed some 400 new laws on AI this year alone — indicating that there is legislative appetite to establish safeguards for this burgeoning space.

“[T]he massive number of AI bills introduced in states like California shows just how interested lawmakers are in this topic,” Matt Perault, executive director of the Center on Technology Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, recently told The New York Times.

Echoing Perault’s point, Brookings Institution senior fellow in governance studies Nicol Turner Lee wrote in a blog post that California is leading the charge and is uniquely positioned to have a crucial impact on AI governance.

“California legislation does not need to be a perfectly comprehensive substitute for federal legislation — it just needs to be an improvement over the current lack of federal legislation,” Lee wrote.

However, some experts have noted that they don’t expect federal regulation to take shape anytime soon. 

While lawmakers on Capitol Hill have introduced draft pieces of legislation around AI regulation, they haven’t yet come to fruition.

Last year, the Biden administration unveiled an executive order that requires federal agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services to develop responsible AI standards in the coming years.

That order also requires companies to notify the federal government if they’re creating an AI model that might involve a national security or public health risk.