There has been a recent surge in interest in AI because it has reached the point where it can be applied to a range of use cases, and companies are wanting to get ahead of the game so that they can reap the benefits and remain competitive in the market. Whether it’s easing the burden of governance and compliance obligations using AI decision support tools modelled on the knowledge of experts, or developing a chatbot to answer complex customer questions, AI can be applied across all industries, and the legal profession is no exception.
The use of AI to determine whether a case should be taken on or not is now commonplace in large law firms, and it was recently announced that AI has been used to predict decisions of the European Court of Human Rights to 79% accuracy.
A key concern regarding the use of new technology within the legal sector seems to be the assumption that judges understand the technology and software that is being used, and is increasingly becoming crucial to court cases. However, historically, judges have predominantly relied on the outcomes of external reviews and audits as evidence, rather than understanding and analysing how technologies have been developed, and the impact that this can have once implemented.
This highlights a real need for the legal system to be brought up to date with the use and regulations of technology, and AI is no exception.
The legal sector needs to be able to regulate new technologies, including AI
How prepared is our legal system for such advanced technology?
When we talk about AI, the topic of driverless cars is unavoidable. They are the most publicised use of AI in the media and they hold a certain fascination, in part because they are seen as the ultimate test of the limitations of AI. You will have heard that the AI system in driverless cars is learning how to make decisions in a split second when the car is placed in a dangerous situation; will it decide to hit the bus in front or the elderly woman walking on the pavement? If a child runs into the road, will it direct the car to swerve into a wall and risk the lives of the passengers to save the child? These are moral dilemmas that any of us would struggle to answer, yet we’re expecting a machine to calculate what the best outcome is.
Before long, we will have cases brought against companies developing driverless cars to assess whether the AI system made the right decision in these scenarios, or whether the training data used led to a faulty output. AI is posing problems by introducing concepts that current law does not cover. It is this kind of dilemma that has focused the law industry for a while now on the topic of AI but that shift is real and upon us so we must switch the theory and ethics for the practical applications and engagement on the regulation of such solutions.
The legal system therefore needs to evolve to cover these concepts, and we need to have confidence that judges understand the technologies being used and are ready to tackle such cases where morality and technology overlap. Google, Facebook and Amazon recently announced that they have formed a council to formulate ethical rules to govern how robots and computer programs should behave in the future, but why are technology providers having to step into this role?
Our legal system should lead the way in formulating how Artificial Intelligence should be regulated
Establishing clearly defined parameters will enable companies to be held accountable for how they are developing and using AI systems.
Breaking barriers – time to embrace Artificial Intelligence.
The current culture maintains lawyers sitting for hours with books and paper. A lot of this is still necessary, but a reluctant approach to adopting technologies could hinder the sector’s ability to deliver opportunities that serve their clients better, increase efficiencies, or grow profitability for a firm.
Technology is opening up opportunities for the sector that weren’t previously possible. Many of the barriers to adopting AI will eventually be overcome, bringing new capabilities to law firms, and more efficient ways to inform decision-making. Both lawyers and clients will likely benefit from this, making more profitable relationships all round.