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.