California Gov. Newsom orders study of generative AI use in state government

California's governor signed an executive order tasking state agencies with studying the potential harm caused by generative AI.
Gov. Gavin Newsom
California Gov. Gavin Newsom pictured in February 2023. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Wednesday to develop guidelines on the use of generative artificial intelligence in state government.

Generative AI refers to deep-learning models that can generate high-quality text, images and other content based on user-provided prompts.

Newsom’s order tells state agencies to create risk assessment reports for how AI could affect their work, California’s economy and the state’s energy usage. It also urges legislators to establish new policies and regulations for the technology, ensuring that AI tools the state purchases are developed and used responsibly. However, the order doesn’t specify any new spending measures or regulations.

“This is a potentially transformative technology – comparable to the advent of the internet – and we’re only scratching the surface of understanding what GenAI is capable of,” Newsom said in the executive order.


Emerging technology is often disruptive, but the introduction of generative AI, including chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, has sparked debates about the limits of technology and its impact on society, forcing state governments nationwide to be more proactive and put forth resources into understanding AI.

The widespread adoption of generative AI has also raised concerns about the potential for misuse and abuse. ChatGPT and other AI writing applications have been used to write academic papers. Image generators like Dall-E have been accused of copyright infringement, as well as violations of personal data- and privacy-rights.

According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit research organization, ten states incorporated AI regulations as part of larger consumer privacy laws that passed or will go into effect this year. It reports even more states have proposed similar bills regulating generative AI. Several states also proposed task forces to investigate AI, expressing concern about AI’s impact on services like health care, insurance and employment.

Major AI companies say they welcome regulation but have also lobbied against some approaches, saying strict laws could stifle the tech’s development.

The executive order also signals that California, the most populous state in the nation and fifth largest economy in the world, seeks to establish the norms for how governments use AI.


“We recognize both the potential benefits and risks these tools enable. We’re neither frozen by the fears nor hypnotized by the upside,” Newsom is quoted as saying in the order’s announcement. “We’re taking a clear-eyed, humble approach to this world-changing technology. Doing what California always does – leading the world in technological progress.”

Sophia Fox-Sowell

Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at Wagner College and master’s in media innovation from Northeastern University.

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