HomeWinBuzzer NewsY Combinator and AI Startups Rally Against California AI Safety Bill

Y Combinator and AI Startups Rally Against California AI Safety Bill

Public surveys indicate substantial support for the bill, with about 77% of likely voters being in favor of the legislation according to a survey.


Y Combinator, the venture capital accelerator that has mentored previous startups into multi-billion enterprises, has criticized a recent bill seeking to introduce safety assessments for extensive artificial intelligence (AI) models. The firm argues that the proposed regulations could have a detrimental effect on the industry within the state. Y Combinator was run by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman before he stepped down to focus exclusively on AI.

The mandates comprehensive safety protocols, encompassing a deactivation mechanism for dangerous AI models. With backing from the Center for AI Safety (CAIS), the bill proposes basic safety assessments and a deactivation switch for large AI models.  It has been approved by the state Senate and awaits a vote in the General Assembly.

Criticizing the Impact on AI Startups

Y Combinator, in a letter addressed to the Assembly Judiciary Committee and signed by 140 startups (via Politico), contends that the bill's demands could hamper the growing phase of new companies. While Senate Bill 1047 aims to regulate major AI models, its broad language could inadvertently affect smaller entities. The letter cautions that this bill could “threaten the vibrancy of California's technology economy and undermine competition.” The letter states:

“In conclusion, we urge you to consider the potential unintended consequences of SB 1047. As an alternative, we encourage the introduction of legislation instead that encourages LLM development to be more open. This could include requiring open source licenses to remain open in perpetuity and encouraging open publishing of .
Such legislation would not only protect the collaborative and transparent nature of open source development but also promote innovation and fair competition by preventing proprietary capture of open source technologies. This approach aligns with the principles of fair use and intellectual property, ensuring that the transformative potential of LLMs can be fully realized without stifling innovation or imposing undue burdens on developers.”

Previously, top AI organizations and tech firms like OpenAIAnthropicCohere, and Meta have already been pushing back on the initiative for . They contend the bill's rigorous standards could drive innovation away from California and lead to excessive liabilities.

Opponents of the bill are concerned about the legal ramifications for AI developers. The requirement for yearly compliance certifications, enforced under the threat of perjury charges, is seen as a significant risk. Senator Wiener, however, disputes these concerns, clarifying that the bill does not intend to imprison startup founders over this issue.

State Senator Scott Wiener introduced Senate Bill 1047 with the goal of implementing safety evaluations for developers working on advanced AI models, particularly those involving over $100 million in training costs. The bill's proposed measures aim to mitigate potential risks associated with sophisticated AI tech. Wiener, whose constituency includes Y Combinator's base of operations, maintains that these regulations are essential for public safety.

Contrarily, Y Combinator's leadership, including CEO Garry Tan and policy head Luther Lowe, believes the bill could impede innovation and potentially drive talent away from California.

Substantial Public Support for Regulation

Despite resistance from tech firms, public surveys indicate substantial support for the bill. According to data from David Binder Research commissioned by the Center for AI Safety, 77% of likely voters are in favor of the legislation. Advocates argue that such safety measures are sensible and needed to responsibly advance AI technologies.

The discourse around Senate Bill 1047 echoes larger conflicts between regulatory actions and the tech sector's pursuit of innovation. As the bill proceeds through the legislative process, it invites increasing examination and opposition from industry players who worry about its broad implications on California's standing in the AI sector.

Last Updated on June 24, 2024 9:29 am CEST

Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a Master´s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.