Artificial Intelligence to Affect Broad Range of Public Services

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Wednesday, July 10th, 2024

Capitol Beat is a nonprofit news service operated by the Georgia Press Educational Foundation that provides coverage of state government to newspapers throughout Georgia. For more information visit

Georgia lawmakers may or may not develop legislation this summer and fall to establish state standards for regulating emerging artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

But one certainty that became clear from the inaugural hearing of a state Senate study committee late last month is that AI will dramatically affect a wide range of government policy areas, from economic development to health care, education, public safety and transportation.

“It’s going to impact and change things like never before,” said Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, chairman of the Senate Study Committee on Artificial Development.

One public policy area already being affected by AI is elections. So-called “deep fakes” already are cropping up in political ads, which digitally alter a candidate’s physical appearance or voice to say or do something the actual person did not say or do.

With deep fakes in political advertising among the early manifestations of AI, some state lawmakers have made the practice the focus of the General Assembly’s first attempt to rein in the industry.

A bill introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives this year called for criminalizing the use of deep fakes in political ads. House Bill 986 overwhelmingly cleared the House only to fizzle in the state Senate.

The effects AI technology is expected to have on public policy already are starting to become evident. In the public safety arena, AI is already capable to picking up 911 calls and dispatching responders, Albers said.

“Nobody will ever be on hold and not have an answer immediately,” he said.

Likewise, the huge role AI will play in transportation is being demonstrated initially by the development of autonomous vehicles, drone deliveries, and technology that allows cities to manage the flow of traffic. Eventually, AI will drive transportation planners’ decisions on where to widen highways or build bridges.

Albers said AI also will revolutionize education.

“We’ve been teaching the same way for 85 years,” he said. “The world has changed eight time over during that time.”

In health care, the data consolidation capabilities of AI could help researchers cure cancer, Albers said.

While much of the General Assembly’s attention on AI is focused on its public policy applications, the legislature also could actively encourage the private sector with incentives to foster use of the technology as an economic development tool.

“We have a real opportunity to create a massive number of (business) startups in this state,” said Pascal Van Hentenryck, a professor at Georgia Tech, director of Tech-AI, the university’s AI hub, and a member of the study committee.

Albers said whatever the General Assembly does in the way of regulating AI also must have an equity component.

“We don’t want to exclude people in this,” he said. ‘We want to defeat the digital divide.”

Albers said the study committee will hold seven or eight hearings this summer and fall, including some away from the Capitol. One of those sessions will be held in Augusta, home to the Georgia Cyber Innovation & Training Center.

The committee is due to release recommendations for proposed legislation by Dec. 1. If no legislation is forthcoming, the panel will file a report to the full Senate.