Two movies are my favourites- Star Wars: Rogue 1
and Star Wars – the Last Jedi. What fascinated me the most was the power of
human beings to reach any supra mental level and behave like gods, humans and
machines at the same time. What I saw was that besides true intelligence which
people view as intangible, the Star Wars franchise propagated that the future
lay in intelligence that was tangible and artificial. And I could very well
relate that to the Bhagvad Geeta, with Lord Krishna himself delving into this
topic when he preaches to his disciple Arjuna, that humans are perishable but
not the soul and the soul takes forms differently in different times and
migrates into a higher version of forms. Similarly, the intelligence in the
universe is not intangible but takes
forms from time to time varying from humans to machines; with both having the
ability to think. With this I became interested in the world of artificial
intelligence and how it can make human
lives a lot simpler,especially in the legal world.
Artificial Intelligence (AI for short) is designing
machines that have the ability to think. It is the intelligence of machines.
The discussions about the importance of artificial intelligence in our life
have gained momentum in recent years. Is it a boon or a bane to the future of
human existence is an ongoing debate? The very ideaof creating an
artificial intelligence is to make the lives of humans easier. Researchers
of artificial intelligence want to bring in the emotional quotient to the
machines along with the general intelligence.
VI, Part 2, Dick the Butcher offers a simple plan to create chaos and help
his band of outsiders ascend to the throne: “Let’s kill all the
lawyers.”Thankfully, no one’s out there systematically murdering lawyers. But
advances in artificial intelligence may diminish their role in the legal system
or even, in some cases, replace them altogether. Here’s what we stand to
gain—and what we should fear—from these technologies.
The Automated Lawyer
For years, artificial intelligence has been automating tasks—like
combingthrough mountains of legal documents and highlighting keywords—that were
once rites of passage for junior attorneys. The bots may soon function as
quasi-employees. In the past year, more than 10 major law firms have “hired”
Ross, a robotic attorney powered in part by IBM’s Watson artificial
intelligence, to perform legal research. Ross is designed to approximate the
experience of working with a human lawyer: It can understand questions asked in
normal English and provide specific, analytic answers.
Technologies like Ross and Lex Machina are intended to assist lawyers,
but AI has also begun to replace them—at least in very straightforward areas of
law. The most successful robot lawyer yet has been developed by a British teenager named
Joshua Browder. Called DoNotPay, it’s a free parking-ticket-fighting chat bot
that asks a series of questions about your case—were the signs clearly marked?
Were you parked illegally because of a medical emergency?—and generates a
letter that can be filed with the appropriate agency. So far, the bot has
helped more than 215,000 people beat traffic and parking tickets in London, New
York, and Seattle. Browder recently added new functions—DoNotPay can now help
people demand compensation from airlines for delayed flights and file paperwork
for government housing assistance—and more are on the way.
DoNotPay is just the beginning. Until we see a major, society-changing
breakthrough in artificial intelligence, robot lawyers won’t dispute the finer
points of copyright law or write elegant legal briefs. But chat bots could be
very useful in certain types of law. Deportation, bankruptcy, and divorce
disputes, for instance, typically require navigating lengthy and confusing
statutes that have been interpreted in thousands of previous decisions. Chatbots
could eventually analyse most every possible exception, loophole, and
historical case to determine the best path forward.
As AI develops, robot lawyers could help address the vast unmet legal
needs of the poor. Roland Vogl, the executive director of the Stanford Program
in Law, Science, and Technology, says chat bots will become the main entry
point into the legal system. “Every legal-aid group has to turn people away
because there isn’t time to process all of the cases,” he says. “We’ll see
cases that get navigated through an artificially intelligent computer system,
and lawyers will only get involved when it’s really necessary.” A good analogy
is TurboTax: If your taxes are straightforward, you use TurboTax; if they’re
not, you get an accountant. The same will happen with law.
We’ll probably never see a court-appointed robot lawyer for a criminal
case, but algorithms are changing how judges mete out punishments. In many
states, judges use software called compas to
help with setting bail and deciding whether to grant parole. The software uses
information from a survey with more than 100 questions—covering things like a
defendant’s gender, age, criminal history, and personal relationships—to
predict whether he or she is a flight risk or likely to re-offend. The use of
such software is troubling: Northpointe, the company that created compas, won’t make its algorithm
public, which means defense attorneys can’t bring informed challenges against
judges’ decisions. And a study by ProPublica found that compas appears to have a strong
bias against black defendants.
Forecasting crime based on questionnaires could come to seem quaint.
Criminologists are intrigued by the possibility of using genetics to predict
criminal behaviour, though even studying the subject presents ethical dilemmas.
Meanwhile, brain scans are already being used in court to determine which
violent criminals are likely to re-offend. We may be headed towards a future
when our own bodies can be used against
us in the criminal-justice system—even before we fully understand the biases
that could be hiding in these technologies.
Eventually, we may not need lawyers, judges, or even courtrooms to
settle civil disputes. Ronald Collins, a professor at the University of
Washington School of Law, has outlined a system for landlord–tenant
disagreements. Because in many instances the facts are uncontested—whether you
paid your rent on time, whether your landlord fixed the thermostat—and the
legal codes are well defined, a good number of cases can be filed, tried, and
adjudicated by software. Using an app or a chatbot, each party would complete a
questionnaire about the facts of the case and submit digital evidence.
We might see a completely automated and ever-present legal system that
runs on sensors and pre-agreed-upon contracts. A company called Clause is
creating “intelligent contracts” that can detect when a set of prearranged
conditions are met (or broken). Though Clause deals primarily with industrial
clients, other companies could soon bring the technology to consumers. For
example, if you agree with your landlord to keep the temperature in your house
between 68 and 72 degrees
and you crank the thermostat to 74, an intelligent contract might
automatically deduct a penalty from your bank account.
Experts say these contracts will increase in complexity. Perhaps one
day, self-driving-car accident disputes will be resolved with checks of the
vehicle’s logs and programming. Your grievance against the local pizza joint’s
guarantee of a hot delivery in 10 minutes will be checked by a GPS sensor and a
smart thermometer. Divorce papers will be prepared when your iPhone detects,
through location tracking and text-message scanning, that you’ve been
unfaithful. Your will could be executed as soon as your Fitbit detects that
India is not far behind. In May
announced the acquisition of an AI startup, Cognea, that developed a
cognitive computing and conversational artificial intelligence platform. IBM
aimed to integrate it with Watson, the company’s question-answering
supercomputer, for more real conversations with users.Since then, it’s been a
wave of sorts with technology companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, Google,
Amazon and others investing in their own AI efforts while acquiring several
startups in the space.At Build 2016, the company’s annual developer
event, Microsoft launched its own bot
a month later in April, Facebook
too launched its Messenger Platform to build chatbots on. The
two announcements gave the companies across the world a chance to bring
chatbots to leading messaging services like Skype and Facebook Messenger (along
with business services like Office 365, Microsoft Teams and Slack) offering
virtual agents for customer interactions powered by artificial intelligence and
Parallel to this
transformation, customers have anyway been increasingly adopting virtual
assistants like Alexa, Cortana, Siri, Google Assistant or Bixby and getting
comfortable with the idea of ‘talking to a virtual person.’
We see many advantages of
artificial intelligence in law and the legal profession but time will tell how
we overcome challenges, if any. And the biggest challenge I see, is the cost
applied to this vis-a-vis affordability and acceptability worldwide, especially
in developing nations.