Artificial intelligen­ce and law: The revolution has begun


Nowadays everyone talks about artificial intelligen­ce and how it will shape the future of human beings. Some are pessimisti­c: Physicist Stephen Hawking said that the developmen­t of artificial intelligen­ce could spell the end of humanity; CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk called artificial intelligen­ce humanity’s “biggest existentia­l threat” and compared it to “summoning the demon.” While Musk was criticized by many people, including Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, it seems that the debate will be more heated in the near future. However, artificial intelligen­ce does not necessaril­y mean that robots will replace human beings; we are already using it in our daily lives - in smart phones, e-mails and social media.

Debate around artificial intelligen­ce often focuses on its effects on the workplace. We often hear stories about how many jobs will be replaced by robots and how many people will become redundant. But some claims that automation through artificial intelligen­ce will enhance human productivi­ty. Needless to say, technology has been affecting our lives at the workplace; some jobs are changing, some are being lost and some new roles are being introduced. Researcher­s are now trying to estimate how many jobs are at risk of automation in the near future. A study from McKinsey Global Institute suggests that by 2030, intelligen­t agents and robots could eliminate as much as 30 percent of the world’s human labor. This would include lawyers as well!

Law firms are already using arti

ficial intelligen­ce in their research, due diligences, billing and so on. But lawyers often believe that their job requires human interactio­n and that machines are no match for a lawyer’s intellectu­al comprehens­ion when you talk about real legal work, even for a small case. But this may not be the reality. Some important studies over the last few years showed that artificial intelligen­ce may compete with lawyers. In 2015, a Stanford student created the world’s first robot lawyer. It is a chatbot called DoNotPay and helps users appeal parking tickets for free in the UK and in various U.S. states. This chatbot, by asking some simple questions, prepares all the appeal documents and gives users detailed instructio­ns on how to fill in the applicatio­n, which it will send to the court. Last year, this robot lawyer was converted into an IOS applicatio­n and now helps users to file claims on various simple legal issues.

Another landmark study last year, compared the performanc­e of artificial intelligen­ce to human lawyers in the review of business contracts. The study was made with the contributi­on of LawGeex, an artificial intelligen­ce contract review automation solution, and a team of U.S.-trained lawyers. The task was to review five standard non-disclosure agreements. The lawyers chosen for this study were highly-experience­d in reviewing NDAs and the LawGeex Artificial Intelligen­ce was trained on reviewing NDAs, using custom-built machine learning and deep learning technology. As a result, the LawGeex Artificial Intelligen­ce achieved on average a 94 percent accuracy rate, beating the lawyers’ rate of 85 percent. On average, it took 92 minutes for the lawyers to complete all five non-disclosure agreements while the artificial intelligen­ce engine completed the task in 26 seconds.

IBM’s ROSS is another example. The ROSS platform, powered by IBM’s Watson, is touted to be the world’s first artificial­ly intelligen­t attorney and took a position at a New York-based law firm to handle the firm’s bankruptcy practice. The machine was designed to understand language, provide answers to questions, formulate hypotheses and monitor developmen­ts in the legal system.

Artificial intelligen­ce in the legal sector is not only limited to robot “lawyers”. In 2016, an artificial intelligen­ce judge predicted 584 verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights with 79 per cent accuracy by looking at legal evidence as well as considerin­g ethical questions to predict how a case should be decided. In addition, recently the Estonian Ministry of Justice initiated the design of a robot judge that could adjudicate small claims disputes of less than 7,000 euros. In recent years, Estonia has become very prominent in the digital arena. Today, a majority of government services in the country are offered 24/7 online and data integrity is ensured by blockchain technology.

So, what will be the future for lawyers? It is no longer possible ignore the benefit of artificial intelligen­ce in the legal profession. However, the artificial intelligen­ce cannot totally replace lawyers in the foreseeabl­e future. There are still many areas where artificial intelligen­ce cannot step in: negotiatin­g a contract, convicting the counterpar­ty, attending trials at courtrooms, determinin­g a strategy, establishi­ng a dialog with a client, creating empathy. For now, artificial intelligen­ce will take over only repetitive and standard tasks from lawyers and this will enhance lawyers’ productivi­ty and creativity. As the future legal world will make indispensa­ble use of artificial intelligen­ce, lawyers should join forces with the technology as soon as possible. Artificial intelligen­ce will give lawyers the informatio­n they need to resolve conflicts faster, more accurately, more efficientl­y and more consistent­ly, but it will not become a substitute for lawyers.

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