Students research AI and surveillance regulation for pending Michigan legislation

November 30, 2023

This fall, Michigan State Representative Dylan Wegela tasked a group of Ford School students to research the implications of artificial intelligence and surveillance in the workplace. Their project is part of a 2-credit experiential learning opportunity facilitated by the Science, Technology, and Public Policy (STPP) Program. Oieshi Saha (MPP ‘24), Audrey Melillo (BA ‘25), and Lydia Kado (BA ‘24) researched international, federal, and state regulation models to further develop potential legislation, the Michigan Workplace Privacy Act. 

They traveled to Lansing last month to share their findings and recommendations, and gather feedback from three State Representatives: Representatives Carrie Rheingans, Jason Morgan, and Felicia Brabec.

“The Representatives had very incisive questions about the different tenets of the bill and how they would be funded and implemented,” Melillo said. “I appreciated hearing about some areas for improvement, and I was grateful for the chance to help strengthen the language and hone the direction of the bill in order to adequately achieve our objectives.”

In Lansing, the students toured the state capitol, observed a legislative session, and gained insight into state political systems. 

“The Lansing Day illustrated the role interpersonal relationships and coalition building play in policymaking. There was a very important bill on the docket that seemed to have very split support on the day of our visit, and it was really fascinating watching all the legislators bustle in and out of meetings with different representatives to try and curry favor and ensure support for the proposed legislation,” Melillo said. 

Julie Berson Grand, STPP’s education manager, coordinated the trip to Lansing. 

“Our Lansing Day trip was definitely the highlight of [STPP’s] semester. While students appreciated being treated like experts by the elected officials, the most meaningful take away was how accessible our state government felt to each of them. The representatives that we met with were smart and principled, but there was a real warmth and lack of formality that was surprising to each of our students,” Berson Grand said.

STPP hopes to provide future experiential learning opportunities for students interested in technology policy. 

“I certainly hope to continue the partnership between STPP and our representatives in Lansing. We expect to continue to offer experiential learning opportunities for those graduate and undergraduate students interested in working at the intersection of science, technology, and public policy,” Berson Grand said.