By now, many of us know a little about AI (artificial intelligence), but what does AI stand for and why is it important for us? We’ve seen films about robots and computers becoming self-aware and either trying to save or destroy the world. We’ve heard about robotic dolls, artificial intelligence animals, and other figures that can move, speak, or seem to think on their own. Now, we see a new type of AI creation on the horizon: AI lawyers. Will artificial intelligence law firms begin taking over the legal system?
What is AI?
The term “AI” is mentioned so much these days that we have almost lost sight of what it means. Simply stated, artificial intelligence simulates human intelligence with the use of machines. Humans program a machine with the right software and algorithms so the machine can then process, learn, and adapt the knowledge it provides.
All artificially intelligent machines must meet the same basic requirements.
According to the U.S. Department of State, the term “artificial intelligence” is defined as a machine-based system that can:
- Learn through perceptions gathered from real and virtual environments.
- Reason by analyzing the learnings through algorithms and other models.
- Self-improve its own functions as it collects more information.
What is AI used for?
In many countries, artificial intelligence is already common in everyday life. People have been employing AI technology for years and may not have even realized it! But these are just a few examples of the ways AI has been helping you in recent years.
If you have a social media account, you use AI.
Social media apps use artificial intelligence processes to provide content you’ll love. Algorithms figure out what kind of ads you interact with, who you want to add as a friend, what you do and don’t want to see in your feed, and more.
Movie night on the couch? You’re employing AI.
Like social media, streaming services also use artificial intelligence to determine what kind of content you like to watch. Do you enjoy candlelit historical romances? Maybe you prefer an action-packed adventure show. AI-powered streaming services will figure out what you love and when you watch it, and they will make sure to recommend it for your viewing pleasure.
Sending a grammatically correct email involves AI.
Do you ever use spell check or a grammar-checking app when you draft messages? These helpful tools use machine learning to process language and determine how to improve the sentences in your email. Spam blocks, anti-virus software, and other common protections on your internet-connected devices are technically artificial intelligence as well.
From banking to baking, AI is here to help.
AI platforms are built into so many parts of everyday life that we can’t possibly name them all. But if you use your phone to make a deposit, you’ve interacted with AI. If you unlock your device with a thumbprint or a selfie—if you ask your phone for directions to your favorite restaurant—if you search online for a cookie recipe—you’ve benefited from AI.
What kind of AI tools are used in the judicial field?
Legal paperwork is extensive. AI helps eliminate the headache.
Just like many other areas of life, the judicial field has also incorporated artificial intelligence. Lawyers use artificial intelligence to review paperwork for their clients. Some companies are even dedicated to creating machines specifically to make the review process simpler. Whereas humans may overlook small typos or incorrect terms, machines are programmed to catch every tiny error.
AI assists with legal cases and research.
Lawyers also use AI to search for the right paperwork for legal cases and research. Certain machines are able to decipher all the various contexts in which a topic could be discussed, and they can then locate documents that are relevant to that topic. For legal research, lawyers can employ analytical AI that seeks out and gains all the relevant information on subject matter.
What are the advantages of having AI-powered legal services?
Busy lawyers can use AI to help win their case.
Clearly, artificial intelligence is able to greatly assist in the judicial field. Once programmed to achieve a certain result, an artificially intelligent machine can keep achieving that same result. For example, a person trying to find the same complex keyword and context over and over in a document could miss a reference, or grow bored and start skimming. Properly trained AI can easily find all those hidden references without getting tired eyes.
Time is money, and AI potentially saves a lot of it.
When it comes to practicing law, AI makes the repetitive processes simpler. It also helps save lawyers time as they go over piles of paperwork for each case they represent. And if it saves lawyers time, it certainly saves clients money! For each hour cut off a lawyer’s time, a client pays less money toward their lawsuit.
AI can even predict the results of a court case.
If provided with the right data, AI has been known to accurately predict the outcome of lawsuits and court cases. While this encourages lawyers to keep up the good fight, it also means lawyers are able to collect the appropriate materials based on the winning data that was fed to the machine.
So are there any disadvantages of AI in law?
AI still contains a margin for error.
Robots are powered and programmed by people. This means that human error still exists within AI. Though the machines are finely tuned to learn and improve over time, if they are programmed incorrectly, they will develop incorrectly. If the data is wrong, the machine’s answers will be wrong.
For an example of AI’s technology blind spots, see the CNBC story, “Your job rejection may have been an A.I. mistake—how to spot and fix it,” about how artificial intelligence being used as a resume screening tool can make hiring discrimination worse. The article quotes LegalShield provider labor issues lawyer, Lindsay Greene, explaining how AI is creating the need for new regulations.
Humans and AI think differently on a fundamental level.
We must also bear in mind that human responses differ from an algorithm’s calculated, unchanging reaction in certain situations. We have all heard amazing stories of judges and juries handing out merciful verdicts. We have read news stories about people forgiving one another in the courtroom. We know that court cases can change at a moment’s notice. An AI platform would not be able to compute these complex human emotions. A court case operated by an AI lawyer would have drastically different results than a court case operated by humans.
Could artificial intelligence replace lawyers?
Recent headlines have claimed that artificial intelligence is able to surpass most people who are attending law school. Will AI replace lawyers? Does that mean that we will soon have AI lawyers in court? While complicated, the tentative answer is not yet—maybe never.
Legal representation is a complex system of people working together to get the most satisfactory legal deals for everybody involved. While machines can find search results, save time and money, and predict outcomes, they cannot replace the human ability to extend mercy; to hold a fair and open discussion that might change an entire court case; or to empathize with another human and find common ground.
At this point in time, AI is best used as a tool to assist in the judicial field. Developers are always making exciting improvements to make AI smarter, faster, and more “human.” But for now, rest assured knowing that lawyers’ jobs and responsibilities are better with AI, but not almost over.
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