Special Report

The Perils of Using AI for Legal Services

August 22, 2023 by Anastasiia Ponomarova in Special Report  
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The Dawn of a New Era

Artificial intelligence is becoming progressively prevalent in various areas, including patent law within the legal industry. AI’s arrival is met with optimism and enthusiasm in certain parts of the industry, while skepticism and pessimism prevail in other quarters.

It is irrefutable that technology will continue to advance with time. It will be intriguing to witness the way the legal profession adjusts. Intellectual property law professionals must keep up with emerging trends, as our profession is on the verge of a significant transformation. Although it may not revolutionize the legal field immediately, this recent technological breakthrough is just one of many advancements that have affected the legal profession.

However, claiming that lawyers will become obsolete due to AI and advanced language modeling may be an exaggeration. The distinction between reaching excellence and fulfilling legal requirements lies in delivering advanced knowledge by experienced consultants rather than simply going through administrative motions.

AI provides opportunities for increased efficiency and productivity in the legal field. However, it is essential to exercise caution and not overly rely on AI and machine learning tools like ChatGPT and Bard, particularly when dealing with patent law.

Limitations of AI

The development and use of AI algorithms are restricted by a lack of easily accessible and analyzable data. Poor quality or flawed datasets can cause biased results and concerns about data privacy and cybersecurity.

AI systems have limitations in their accuracy, reliability, and impartiality. These limitations can be the result of biased data or decisions made by programmers when coding and training the algorithms. The implementation of AI also faces challenges such as business models that may not incentivize efficiency improvements, lack of experience in evaluating AI systems, and the need for well-defined use-cases and extensive technical expertise.

Regarding the impact of AI on a lawyer’s ethical duties, it is not entirely clear how they will be affected. Some argue that lawyers have an ethical duty to use AI to improve affordability and provide better services. In contrast, others believe there are situations where AI should not be used to protect clients from biased algorithms. AI is predicted to affect the ethical responsibilities concerning knowledge of technology, keeping information private, overseeing, communicating with clients, making decisions without influence, dealing with past clients, not practicing law without permission, charging fair fees, and avoiding situations where personal interests could interfere. It is important to quickly define the limits of these responsibilities due to the fast progress of AI.

AI Hallucinations

Lawyers have seldom encountered the term “hallucinations” concerning AI. Yet, it is vital to grasp that AI systems occasionally delve into realms of hallucination – precisely the term coined by their creators.

Generative AI playfully combines and fuses its acquired knowledge, sometimes less than perfectly. It has an astounding ability to conjure up completely incorrect and seemingly credible phrases. AI doesn’t intentionally fabricate; instead, it conjures up things – a phenomenon dubbed “hallucination” by the experts in the field. This is not a favorable reference for any lawyer to include in their legal argument! Hallucinations can reach such outrageous levels that they become unmistakable, as they are clearly unrelated or resemble complete gibberish. They possess an uncanny ability to evade detection when they subtly deviate from being accurate.

Regulatory reforms in response to the rise of legal artificial intelligence (AI).

The current regulations for legal practices do not account for AI, which could lead to an inequitable two-tiered system. Regions should focus on transparency, competition, and regulatory sandboxes to address this. Transparency ensures that legal AI systems are not controlled solely by technical experts and allows for input from lawyers to improve the technology. It also helps detect and reduce bias in AI. Competition is essential to prevent monopolies in AI legal services and encourages developers to improve their algorithms and make services more affordable. Regulatory sandboxes, like the one launched in Utah, can lift restrictions and increase accessibility to AI legal services for smaller firms and impoverished Americans.

The text emphasizes that regulatory reforms are necessary to prevent negative consequences and ensure legal technology can help close the justice gap. Simply accepting that “technology is better than nothing” is not sufficient. AI has the potential to equalize access to justice, but without regulation, it could exacerbate inequalities. Therefore, regulators must act quickly to address the challenges and risks associated with legal AI and ensure that it benefits everyone.

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