Utah opens AI policy office, learning lab

Utah's new Office of Artificial Intelligence Policy aims to help businesses overcome regulatory snags, while protecting the public from potential harms.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at a launch event for the state's Office of AI Policy on July 8, 2024. (Utah Department of Commerce)

Utah on Monday unveiled its Office of Artificial Intelligence Policy, along with a new AI learning lab dedicated to improving AI policies for the benefit of businesses, consumers and government.

The office’s new lab will assess areas where improved policies can help AI companies overcome regulatory burdens for using AI while also protecting the public from potential harm, according to an announcement by the Utah Department of Commerce. The office’s division director, Zach Boyd, said at a launch event in Salt Lake City on Monday, that one way to reach those goals will be to supply businesses “regulatory mitigation agreements,” KUER reported.

(The new policy office, housed in the state commerce department, was created by a law signed in March by Gov. Spencer Cox. Though the office began operations in May, Monday marked its official public opening.)

Businesses can apply for agreements that may help them overcome potentially outdated prohibitions that could stifle AI innovation, like reducing fines for regulatory violations, even if just temporarily. The law that created the office gave it the power to issue the agreements, which, Boyd said, would allow the office to collect preliminary data about how generative AI is used.


Utah’s new law also set guardrails for AI use, such as requiring individuals and businesses to disclose instances in which AI-powered chatbots are used instead of humans, and excluding “data generated by computer algorithms or statistical models” from the legal definition of “personal data” under the state’s data privacy law.

The learning lab will also engage with companies, “stakeholders” and AI experts to test policy ideas and make recommendations to the legislature, the announcement continued.

Cox appeared at the launch event on Monday, where he noted that if the lab produces recommendations that show a need to pass more-comprehensive AI legislation, state lawmakers will be allowed to hold a special session.

“I’m proud of the ‘Utah Way’ that encourages us to do this, that business and government can work side by side in a way that helps everyone and elevates our state and powerful way,” Cox said.

Keely Quinlan

Written by Keely Quinlan

Keely Quinlan reports on privacy and digital government for StateScoop. She was an investigative news reporter with Clarksville Now in Tennessee, where she resides, and her coverage included local crimes, courts, public education and public health. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Stereogum and other outlets. She earned her bachelor’s in journalism and master’s in social and cultural analysis from New York University.

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