AI is poised to revolutionize our society, including how we practice law.
AI offers lawyers a new tool to more efficiently research relevant codes and laws or case law. The online legal research tool, LexisNexis, has already introduced AI software to assist research into its database. A competitor, Westlaw, plans to launch its own AI assisted search algorithm by the end of 2023. These developments offer the potential assistance to lawyers when conducting research.
However, in a legal case that made headlines, AI went beyond mere assistance. The article from the New York Times titled, “The ChatGPT Lawyer Explains Himself” delves into an otherwise routine lawsuit in which the AI chat bot, ChatGPT, fabricated legal decisions to support a case. Without checking if the cases were real, the plaintiff’s lawyers cited them in court. The court soon discovered the decisions were not real and an investigation ensued.
The attorney responsible for citing the manufactured cases, claimed he was not aware ChatGPT was capable of conjuring cases from thin air. While he apparently did not intend to deceive anyone, his lack of knowledge about ChatGPT demonstrates how little people understand AI and therefore the potential danger for AI’s misuse. As AI continues developing, that danger will only increase.
The European Union has already begun legislation to regulate AI. On June 14, 2023, the European Parliament adopted an official position concerning AI. According to the EU parliament’s news site, parliament wishes to ensure the safe operation of AI, guarantee human oversight and codify a definition of AI that can apply to future AI systems. It is now up to the EU Council to agree to the law’s final form.
While other countries such as the US and the UK have released statements on how they intend to regulate AI they have yet to begin any legislation. Of course, in an age where the internet allows the rapid transfer of data, including AI software, the lack of regulation anywhere threatens to undermine regulation where it does exist. How AI will be used in the coming years thus remains uncertain.