Tech-tonic shifts – POLITICO


THE BUZZ: The tech industry won a reprieve from Sacramento and the US Supreme Court on Thursday, but you don’t need an algorithm to predict more political pressure ahead.

In Washington, the supreme court deflected a challenge to a core content liability shield by refuses to take up business accused social media giants of culpability for terrorism. In Sacramento, a bill to limit artificial intelligence faltered in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The tech industry group Net Choice took the “huge win” from SCOTUS. “Did the industry win today? I think so,” Assembly member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan said of her bill to business opposition.

But we’re sure we’ll see more legal and political battles over the harms of social media and the scope of AI, including in a California Legislature where both Republicans and Bay Area Democrats are showing an increasing willingness to rein in Silicon Valley.

Prosecutors could sue social media companies for harming children under an account that cleared Senate Appropriations Thursday and goes to a floor vote. The measure has already been scaled back as tech lobbyists rallied against it, with state Sen. Nancy Skinner scrapping a fee for lawsuits. But the proposal is moving despite formidable opposition. The industry is in court against a new law passed last year that regulates online products used by children.

Bipartisan fear of algorithms has built political momentum for stronger protections on social media for years. The apparent ubiquity of AI tools like ChatGPT is a more recent development that has lawmakers racing to catch up. OpenAI founder Sam Altman warned senators in Washington this week that the technology he has pioneered could “go terribly wrong” and “cause significant damage to the world” without appropriate regulation.

Legislators in OpenAI’s home state would like to get ahead of these dire forecasts, Bauer-Kahan said, to ensure “we get the positive benefits and not the scary parts that Sam Altman warned about.” Her bill isn’t the first time California has grappled with the downsides of potentially discriminatory algorithms — those concerned helped torpedo a cash deposit ban that would have relied on risk assessments – but it probably won’t be the last.

ONE MORE – Airbnb is not embroiled in California clashes over worker classification or social media ills like its Silicon Valley brethren. But the company is facing a fight about an account, sponsored by the Trades, imposing an occupancy tax on short-term rentals and channeling the funds to low- and middle-income housing. The measure is also set to hit the Senate floor in the next few weeks.

BUENOS DÍAS, good Friday morning. Gov. Gavin Newsom is set to unveil its promised licensing reform today. And Vice President Kamala Harris will return to Los Angeles to showcase the administration’s mental health efforts.

Have a tip or story idea for California Playbook? Hit us up at (email protected) and (email protected) or follow us on Twitter @JeremyBWhite and @Lara_Korte.

Where is GAVIN? In Stanislaus County, talking about his plans for “the most ambitious streamlining and consent and judicial reforms in our state in half a century.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “So many of my friends say, ‘What happened to California?’ I’m like, ‘I know, it’s great, right? Elon’s coming back — we’re growing great.'” Newsom on old friend Elon Musk.