Artificial Intelligence & Law
The legal profession upholds a high stature and demands immense respect, hard-work, perseverance, commitment and most importantly, Intelligence. The few mentioned attributes do not, per se, be an issue for a machine, however, intelligence is one parameter which differentiates humans from machines, and with Artificial Intelligence (AI) riding the rocket of exponential progress, the differential parameter may become non-existent in the near future. A future of mankind in this direction may be utopian for some but dystopian for others.
Humans v. Robots v. AI – A Path to Survival
Before delving much further, let us try and understand what Artificial Intelligence really is. According to the English Oxford Living Dictionary, AI is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. Further, Merriam-Webster defines AI as (a) A branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behaviour in computers. (b)The capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behaviour. Furthermore, the Encyclopaedia Britannica describes it as the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.
Examining the aforementioned descriptions of AI, it is pertinent to note that all three definitions have one aspect in common i.e. human intelligence. The motivation behind artificial intelligence is to match the capabilities of human intelligence with non-human man-made counterparts called Robots. Robot essentially refers to a machine, whereas AI is not limited to a machine, it could be purely software as well. Hence, the use of the word Robot is an extended one. These robots, if endowed, with capabilities even remotely close to that of human intelligence, then these would transform into resources with a competent level of intellect barring the physical limitations of a human body. Many would call such a resource, an ideal one.
AI & Law – An unusual affair
With the introduction of newer technology overcoming the shortfalls of its predecessor, the older version is deemed useless and redundant. Imagine the impact of a so-called ideal resource having human intelligence minus the physical limitations in any given industry.Looking back into the history, it is not unknown that the introduction of computers and the resulting automation of certain tasks, caused a downfall in employment opportunities. Hence, one cannot discount the possibility that development of sustainable and competent AI can have similar impact on jobs that require human intelligence and the associated reactivity and proactivity with it.
It is well established that law is a very demanding profession, especially in terms of intellectual ability. The legal profession is multifaceted, it ranges from lawyers to the judges, from law enforcers to policy makers, from corporate counsels to legal management firms, yet, none of the aforementioned facets are immune to the threat of being replaced by AI. Considering that most legal work entails a huge amount of paperwork resulting into a great deal of time consumption, automation of such tasks by virtue of machines equipped with AI would lead to potentially more efficient work delivery with at least as much quality as with the characteristic of a human mind, if not better. Furthermore, the memory of a human mind, howsoever extraordinary it may, it will always be microscopic when compared to its robotic counterparts whose memories are only limited by upgradable disks they possess. AI will act as a deadly compliment to a virtually endless memory and blazing fast processing speed. The weapons wielded by a qualified lawyer i.e. a good comprehension of law and a proactive applicability of the law would be available to a robotic counterpart with artificial intelligence in minutes or even seconds.
A human being, howsoever, hardworking and determined, is bound by his biological and physical limitations and is a slave to his physiological needs. A human being needs eight hours of sleep in every twenty-four hours, as compared to a robotic counterpart for whom sleep is merely a phenomenon unknown. If a potential employer is getting a resource with full time working capability in contrast to a resource which needs sleep every few hours, he/she does not have a very hard choice to make. In view of the aforementioned, it is clear that with introduction of AI the industry will move in only one direction which coincides with the destruction of human jobs in exchange for productivity.
The Road Ahead
Having considered the preceding facts, it is pertinent to mention that as much as AI will contribute to efficient handling of tasks in the industry and produce better results, the said approach will be counterproductive for the human working force and hence not in the interest of public policy.
Further, the large scale implications and possible negative impact on the industry will create a void which will have to be addressed by necessary legislation. As much as AI is projected to be capable of almost anything, it cannot be entrusted with keeping a check on itself. Thus, it can work towards self-discipline by a way of active engagement of the members of the legal fraternity .Additionally, in case of a human legal resource, accountability can be, wholly or at least, partially assigned to the person performing the concerned task. However, in the case of AI resources, the accountability cannot possibly be traced to that concerned resource and has to go all the way to the top of the chain. Hence, with all its pros, AI definitely brings to the battleground its own set of cons. With its vast expanse across the digital arena,AI will be susceptible to compromising situations making it vulnerable to hacking and other e-crimes.
The contemporary world sees AI being deployed in the legal sector in the following ways: (i) Document Review (ii) Analysing Contracts (iii) Legal Research (iv) Predicting Results. These uses are preliminary in nature and only give a preview of what AI is really capable of. They cannot be used to paint an accurate picture of the future of AI and law, as the possibilities are endless. However, with the optimisation of AI to perform these tasks, the interference of a legal professional is no longer required. Hence, AI is swiftly degenerating jobs and it would not be long before it takes over the industry.
In conclusion, it shall be noted that whereas AI can prove to be the wind in the legal profession’s sail, it can also bog it down without necessary supervision and requisite legislation. Hence, its use should be promoted and encouraged, however, in a gradual and systematic manner.