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THURS: AI expert urges more NM regulation, Feds release annual plan for rivers, + More

The Children Youth and Families Department Policy Advisory Council met for the first time inside the New Mexico State Capitol on Thursday, May 4, 2023.
Liam DeBonis
Source New Mexico
The New Mexico State Capitol on Thursday, May 4, 2023.

AI expert tells New Mexico lawmakers to go further with regulation - Austin Fisher, Source New Mexico

An expert on artificial intelligence told a legislative panel that state lawmakers were right to protect themselves from AI’s potential harmful effects on their election campaigns, but now they need to offer the same protections to everyone else.

Melanie Moses is a University of New Mexico computer science professor and special adviser to the vice president for artificial intelligence research.

At the Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee’s first meeting between legislative sessions on Wednesday, Moses said lawmakers took a good first step with the deepfake law passed in the 2024 legislative session.

Deepfakes can be used in any type of media that is edited or manipulated to make fake information appear real. Artificial intelligence can be used to easily create sophisticated media that can make a person appear in places they’ve never been, or do and say something that didn’t happen.

The new law in New Mexico will go into effect later this month. It requires political campaigns and candidates to tell the public whenever they use false information generated by artificial intelligence in a campaign ad.

However, Moses said it’s “a small step on what’s going to be a very long journey.”

“You’ve protected yourselves; you’ve protected people who are running for election,” Moses said. “The rest of the population also needs this sort of protection.”

She pointed to deepfakes that create pornography or slander as two examples of real harms. “We can’t let (those) stand, both for the particular individual that is going to suffer, but more broadly, because all of us will learn to distrust reality if these deepfakes proliferate,” Moses told state lawmakers.

“I think we’re already pretty close to never being able to believe what we see, which is a really hard way to run a democracy,” Moses said.

Moses said she thinks the Legislature would best serve New Mexico by considering what to regulate to protect people from algorithms’ potential harms, and where to invest money in artificial intelligence research for the economy and public education.


Moses said AI laws passed by other states contain many loopholes, especially around “trade secrets,” where governments and corporations can withhold information about the models they use to make decisions by claiming it is proprietary.

“I think that the state of New Mexico should take the position: if an algorithm is making a choice that affects someone’s freedom, their financial wellbeing, those sorts of highly consequential decisions, there can’t be a loophole that says, ‘This is my trade secret, so I can’t tell you why I’m denying you this loan or keeping you in jail,’” Moses said.

Machine learning models like the AI-driven chatbot ChatGPT, for example, are “not explainable,” Moses said.

“If the model is not transparent and can’t be explained, it shouldn’t be used in this kind of high-stakes decision making in our state,” Moses said. “I think that’s a line we can draw.”

Two committee members, Reps. Debra M. Sariñana (D-Albuquerque) and Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), were co-sponsors on a bill in the last session that would have required all state agencies to track their artificial intelligence systems, including whether the system was used to support a “consequential decision,” like determining someone’s public benefits or imposing punishment like jail or prison time.

Moses said she thinks that bill is “on the right track.”


It is difficult to find a place to put the large data centers which host the supercomputers that help create these AI models, Moses said, because “there is no state that will say, ‘We can offer you enough power and enough water to cool this data center that you can put it here.’”

“We just don’t have the power to actually drive these,” Moses said. “It’s expected that 10% of the electricity in the United States will soon go to powering these AI models. In an era of climate change, that is an astonishing — and really not a future we want to go to.”

Chandler asked if she should assume greater demand on electricity and water because of a new supercomputer installed by Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Moses said yes and no. The lab’s machine is smaller than other supercomputers but New Mexico does not have much water, she said.

“I have not seen an assessment of how much water and electricity is in use for these particular machines,” Moses said. “It’s the kind of thing we should know the answer to before, as part of the decision making.”

Chandler asked if lawmakers should consider making some kind of public input requirement for supercomputing projects “to assure that the resources are there, and not they’re not going to negatively infringe on just living in a town.”


Moses said another important thing discussed in the previous session was some kind of “standing study group” to look at what is coming in the future, what lawmakers have already done, and the impacts of those new laws.

Moses said when there is radically new technology, “we really are terrible at predicting what will happen.” She said that’s why she thinks a study group is necessary to constantly monitor AI laws’ good and bad effects.

“With AI, it is really a complex system; you’re not going to be able to create a law that regulates AI and expect it to hold for years on end,” Moses said. “It really is going to have to be an iterative process.”

Federal agencies release operating plans for Rio Grande and Pecos River KUNM News, New Mexico Political Report

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers have released their annual operating plans for the Rio Grande and Pecos rivers.

New Mexico Political Report’s Hannah Groverreports the two agencies say Elephant Butte Reservoir likely already reached its peak elevation for this year in February, and with limited upstream storage “conditions will likely be challenging in the late summer into the fall.”

Because of ongoing construction on the El Vado dam, storing Rio Grande waters will again be limited this year. Officials said if flows from El Vado aren’t sufficient, weekday flows will be reduced to support a 500 cubic feet per second weekend release.

Snowpack was at or above average for the year, and runoff has been about average, but river flows have been shown to be slightly below average. The only exception being the Jemez river which is flowing at about 134% of average.

Lawsuit alleges woman overdosed in jail while guard watched YouTube, played games - Bethany Raja, City Desk ABQ

This story was originally published by City Desk ABQ

The mother of a woman who died of a drug overdose at the Metropolitan Detention Center filed a lawsuit against Bernalillo County last week alleging a corrections officer failed to complete required checks and also broke the jail’s computer use policy by watching videos and playing games during his shift.

“This case is about MDC failure, the jail’s failure, to take care of the people that it is required to take care of,” said the family’s attorney Jason Wallace in an interview with City Desk ABQ.

The jail’s computer use policy states that corrections officers should not do anything with county internet access resources that would otherwise be considered illegal or grossly inappropriate.

According to the lawsuit, while 41-year-old April Peterson overdosed in the early morning hours of June 21, 2023, Corrections Officer Jason Malizia spent the majority of his shift watching videos on YouTube, including Major League Baseball highlights, KRQE News, and the movie You don’t mess with the Zohan. For the hour before Peterson’s death, the computer’s browsing history shows he was also playing a game.

Daniel Trujillo, spokesperson for MDC, said in an email that the county will review the lawsuit and address it accordingly.

From 2019 to February 2024, 31 people have died while in the custody of the jail.


Wallace said it’s incumbent upon the guards who work at MDC to take care of the detainees.

“When someone is incarcerated at MDC, they rely on the jail for everything — for food, for medicine, for water, for clothes. They can’t just get up and leave and take care of themselves,” he said.

Peterson, who was booked into MDC on June 20, 2023, was found dead in the jail’s detox unit on June 21 — of a drug overdose — in the jail’s detox unit. She had been charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, and tampering with evidence.

“Ms. Peterson was admitted into MDC on… and she admitted to the health care folks there that she was an addict,” Wallace said. “So they knew that she was going to have to detox.”

While in the detox unit, Wallace said Peterson was able to get methamphetamine and fentanyl, and she died of an overdose within 26 hours of being booked.

According to the complaint, when Peterson was booked into MDC, she walked through a full-body scanner and was also scanned by a metal detector in search of weapons and narcotics. She was also physically searched for foreign objects in her body and nothing was found.

Peterson was given a medical exam and told jail officials she needed substance abuse services because she used methamphetamine and fentanyl daily, the lawsuit states.

Peterson was then placed in a cell by herself to be monitored while she detoxed from the drugs and then sent to the detox unit. Wallace told City Desk ABQ that Peterson was placed in a low-to-the-ground plastic bed called a “boat,” where she spent most of the day.

At 11:04 p.m. June 20, 2023, the lawsuit alleges, Malizia started his shift in the detox unit.

Malizia’s duties required routine welfare checks on the inmates every 30 minutes, but Wallace said that an audit found that less than half — 44% — of his welfare checks were conducted within 30 minutes of each other.

“It also found that he only performed 77% of the welfare checks he was required to perform while on that shift,” Wallace said. “So he was negligent — I’m going to use the word negligent — in his duties. He had a job to do and he didn’t do it.”

During her time in the unit, Wallace said Peterson got out of bed and asked Malizia to use the restroom and for a new pair of pants.

“She goes to the restroom and he goes to get the pants. She puts them on and goes back to her bed and passes away shortly after,” Wallace said.

According to the lawsuit, Malizia can be seen on surveillance videos watching videos on YouTube and playing video games instead of completing his welfare checks. It states that before Peterson’s death, Malizia accessed the computer’s browser 48 times to watch YouTube videos and play games.

The lawsuit states that he first logged onto YouTube at 11:47 p.m. and it wasn’t until 3:10 a.m. that he found Peterson unresponsive.


When Malizia found Peterson, the lawsuit states, her mouth and eyes were open. He called out her name, but she didn’t answer, so he felt for a pulse.

The lawsuit states that another guard also attempted to feel for a pulse, but could not find one. MDC Sgt. Carlos Chavez entered the unit and ordered the two guards to use an Automated External Defibrillator on Peterson.

Corrections officers placed the pads on her bare chest, but court documents state that the AED never delivered a shock. It’s unclear why it didn’t work. The medical team arrived and performed manual chest compressions until Peterson was declared dead.

The lawsuit, which alleges severe negligence and violation of civil rights, will depend on a jury to determine damages.

City Council wants to hear your thoughts on the mayor’s proposed budget - Carolyn Carlson, City Desk ABQ

This story was originally published by City Desk ABQ 

Have some opinions on how the city should budget its money? The public is invited to share its thoughts with Albuquerque city councilors at two upcoming meetings — one this Thursday and another next Thursday.

The Committee of the Whole will meet May 2 and May 9 to hear resident input on the mayor’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2025.

At the meetings, all nine council members act as a committee to consider the budget and the capital improvement program. The committee also meets with the mayor, and the mayor’s representatives, to review and make recommendations about the priority, ranking and implementation of policy priorities in the budget.

These meetings are the only scheduled meetings where the public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the budget process.


Thursday’s meeting will target what the city considers to besocial goals. These include funding for community safety, police, civilian police oversight, arts and culture, library services, family and community services, fire and rescue, senior services and more.

For instance, the mayor’s proposed budget for social goals is asking for about:

· $283 million for police services.

· $123 million for fire and rescue.

· $2.8 million for the civilian police oversight agency.

· $63 million for housing initiatives.

· $46 million for youth services.


The May 9 meeting will focus onphysical goals. These are appropriations to city departments such as animal welfare, transit, environmental health, finance and administration, human services, legal, planning and other departments.

WHEN: 5 p.m. May 2
WHERE: Vincent E. Griego Chambers at Albuquerque City Hall, located at 1 Civic Plaza NW
VIRTUAL: Click here for the agenda and instructions on participating in person or through Zoom.

UNM Gaza Solidarity Encampment still in place after arrestsDaniel Montaño, Source NM

All protesters arrested for criminal trespassing and wrongful use of public property during an encampment protest of the University of New Mexico Student Union Building were released Tuesday evening.

A pro-Palestinian protest encampment has been ongoing at the UNM Duck Pond for almost two weeks now, calling for the University to divest from Israel. That protest moved into the Sub on Monday.

Austin Fischer with Source New Mexicoreports the UNM Police Department alleges the protesters refused to leave the SUB when directed to do so by UNM administrators and the police.

At around 3:30 a.m. at least 25 officers from the New Mexico State Police and UNMPD entered the SUB and forcefully detained 16 protestors, 5 of whom were confirmed to be UNM students by administration.

A video sent to KUNM by a witness at the protest shows police tackling demonstrators, as well as throwing protesters against furniture and to the ground, and astatement on the protest camp’s social media said police injured “multiple protestors…including a young person who is pregnant.”

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexicoreleased a statement in defense of the protesters right to free speech and “to publicly advocate for causes they believe in.” They urged any students who believe their rights were violated to submit a complaint to the ACLU.

In astatement released Tuesday, UNM said “those who occupied the building were not peacefully protesting, they were engaged in criminal activity by entering, remaining in, and damaging the SUB after its closing hours.” UNM accused the protesters of vandalizing the SUB and other locations around campus with graffiti.

Congressional delegation calls on House Speaker to pass RECA expansion KUNM News, Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico’s congressional delegation is pushing for a vote to expand the federal law that covers people exposed to radiation from nuclear testing and uranium mining.

Sen. Ben Ray Lujan along with Democratic and Republican colleagues sent aletter to House Speaker Mike Johnson urging him to immediately pass legislation to expand and reauthorize the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which will expire in June.

The Albuquerque Journalreports the Senate already approved expanding and reauthorizing RECA in March. It would help downwinders in New Mexico who so far have not been compensated for exposure from the Trinity Test in 1945. It would also cover people who worked in uranium mines after 1971. And it would include new areas in other Western states.

The Senate succeeded late last year in getting the expansion in the National Defense Authorization Act, but its inclusion was blocked in the House, despite bipartisan support.