Abdelnasser Rashid

State Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid (D-Bridgeview) has been appointed by Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch to serve as co-chair of the state’s new artificial intelligence (AI) task force. The task force was created by a law passed earlier this year.

The task force will consist of approximately 20 members and will include legislators, technology experts, educators and other stakeholders. Its mission is to provide informed policy recommendations on AI to the Illinois General Assembly. 

It will examine the impact of AI on schools, economy and civil liberties. The task force, which is still being formed, is required to submit a report to the General Assembly by the end of 2024 although Rashid said that he hopes the task force will be able to issue guidance, insights and best practices before the end of 2024. 

“We’ll have experts on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, members of the business community, people in labor, and educators so it’s a good cross section of many of the stakeholders that really should be weighing in on how the state should grapple with AI,” Rashid said in a telephone interview with the Landmark.

Rashid minored in computer science at Harvard University, a background which led Welch to appoint Rashid as co-chair of the new task force. Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) will appoint the other co-chair. 

“Representative Rashid’s fresh perspective and background in computer science will help guide Illinois’ approach to this emerging technology,” said Welch in a press release. “Artificial intelligence offers opportunities for innovation, as well as important conversations that must be had regarding privacy, security, and workplace fairness. I look forward to seeing Representative Rashid lend his perspective and insight to these important discussions.”

Rashid, 34, majored in social studies at Harvard and recently received an MBA from the University of Chicago.

“I’ve generally stayed very active in the tech sphere, including my time in Cook County [government] working on technology projects and kept the technology muscle active,” Rashid said. 

Before being elected to the state legislature in 2022 Rashid worked as the deputy chief of staff in the Cook County Clerk’s Office under David Orr and as the chief policy and intergovernmental affairs officer for Cool County Assessor Fritz Kaegi. 

Lawmakers around the country have begun to look at whether or how to regulate artificial intelligence as AI capabilities and applications have vastly increased over the past couple of years.

Rashid said he expects that the task force will have a robust conversation on state policy towards AI.

“I think that AI has the potential to lead to a brain drain on a societal level,” Rashid said.