Two movies are my favourites- Star Wars: Rogue 1and Star Wars – the Last Jedi. What fascinated me the most was the power ofhuman beings to reach any supra mental level and behave like gods, humans andmachines at the same time. What I saw was that besides true intelligence whichpeople view as intangible, the Star Wars franchise propagated that the futurelay in intelligence that was tangible and artificial. And I could very wellrelate that to the Bhagvad Geeta, with Lord Krishna himself delving into thistopic when he preaches to his disciple Arjuna, that humans are perishable butnot the soul and the soul takes forms differently in different times andmigrates into a higher version of forms. Similarly, the intelligence in theuniverse is not intangible but takesforms from time to time varying from humans to machines; with both having theability to think. With this I became interested in the world of artificialintelligence and how it can make humanlives a lot simpler,especially in the legal world.Artificial Intelligence (AI for short) is designingmachines that have the ability to think.
It is the intelligence of machines.The discussions about the importance of artificial intelligence in our lifehave gained momentum in recent years. Is it a boon or a bane to the future ofhuman existence is an ongoing debate? The very ideaof creating anartificial intelligence is to make the lives of humans easier. Researchersof artificial intelligence want to bring in the emotional quotient to themachines along with the general intelligence.
InShakespeare’s HenryVI, Part 2, Dick the Butcher offers a simple plan to create chaos and helphis band of outsiders ascend to the throne: “Let’s kill all thelawyers.”Thankfully, no one’s out there systematically murdering lawyers. Butadvances in artificial intelligence may diminish their role in the legal systemor even, in some cases, replace them altogether. Here’s what we stand togain—and what we should fear—from these technologies.The Automated LawyerFor years, artificial intelligence has been automating tasks—likecombingthrough mountains of legal documents and highlighting keywords—that wereonce rites of passage for junior attorneys. The bots may soon function asquasi-employees.
In the past year, more than 10 major law firms have “hired”Ross, a robotic attorney powered in part by IBM’s Watson artificialintelligence, to perform legal research. Ross is designed to approximate theexperience of working with a human lawyer: It can understand questions asked innormal 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 oflaw. The most successful robot lawyer yet has been developed by a British teenager namedJoshua Browder. Called DoNotPay, it’s a free parking-ticket-fighting chat botthat asks a series of questions about your case—were the signs clearly marked?Were you parked illegally because of a medical emergency?—and generates aletter that can be filed with the appropriate agency. So far, the bot hashelped more than 215,000 people beat traffic and parking tickets in London, NewYork, and Seattle.
Browder recently added new functions—DoNotPay can now helppeople demand compensation from airlines for delayed flights and file paperworkfor government housing assistance—and more are on the way.DoNotPay is just the beginning. Until we see a major, society-changingbreakthrough in artificial intelligence, robot lawyers won’t dispute the finerpoints of copyright law or write elegant legal briefs.
But chat bots could bevery useful in certain types of law. Deportation, bankruptcy, and divorcedisputes, for instance, typically require navigating lengthy and confusingstatutes that have been interpreted in thousands of previous decisions. Chatbotscould eventually analyse most every possible exception, loophole, andhistorical case to determine the best path forward.
As AI develops, robot lawyers could help address the vast unmet legalneeds of the poor. Roland Vogl, the executive director of the Stanford Programin Law, Science, and Technology, says chat bots will become the main entrypoint into the legal system. “Every legal-aid group has to turn people awaybecause there isn’t time to process all of the cases,” he says. “We’ll seecases that get navigated through an artificially intelligent computer system,and lawyers will only get involved when it’s really necessary.” A good analogyis TurboTax: If your taxes are straightforward, you use TurboTax; if they’renot, you get an accountant. The same will happen with law.We’ll probably never see a court-appointed robot lawyer for a criminalcase, but algorithms are changing how judges mete out punishments.
In manystates, judges use software called compas tohelp with setting bail and deciding whether to grant parole. The software usesinformation from a survey with more than 100 questions—covering things like adefendant’s gender, age, criminal history, and personal relationships—topredict whether he or she is a flight risk or likely to re-offend. The use ofsuch software is troubling: Northpointe, the company that created compas, won’t make its algorithmpublic, which means defense attorneys can’t bring informed challenges againstjudges’ decisions. And a study by ProPublica found that compas appears to have a strongbias against black defendants.
Forecasting crime based on questionnaires could come to seem quaint.Criminologists are intrigued by the possibility of using genetics to predictcriminal behaviour, though even studying the subject presents ethical dilemmas.Meanwhile, brain scans are already being used in court to determine whichviolent criminals are likely to re-offend. We may be headed towards a futurewhen our own bodies can be used againstus in the criminal-justice system—even before we fully understand the biasesthat could be hiding in these technologies.Eventually, we may not need lawyers, judges, or even courtrooms tosettle civil disputes. Ronald Collins, a professor at the University ofWashington School of Law, has outlined a system for landlord–tenantdisagreements. Because in many instances the facts are uncontested—whether youpaid your rent on time, whether your landlord fixed the thermostat—and thelegal codes are well defined, a good number of cases can be filed, tried, andadjudicated by software.
Using an app or a chatbot, each party would complete aquestionnaire about the facts of the case and submit digital evidence.We might see a completely automated and ever-present legal system thatruns on sensors and pre-agreed-upon contracts. A company called Clause iscreating “intelligent contracts” that can detect when a set of prearrangedconditions are met (or broken). Though Clause deals primarily with industrialclients, other companies could soon bring the technology to consumers. Forexample, if you agree with your landlord to keep the temperature in your housebetween 68 and 72 degreesand you crank the thermostat to 74, an intelligent contract mightautomatically deduct a penalty from your bank account.Experts say these contracts will increase in complexity. Perhaps oneday, self-driving-car accident disputes will be resolved with checks of thevehicle’s logs and programming.
Your grievance against the local pizza joint’sguarantee of a hot delivery in 10 minutes will be checked by a GPS sensor and asmart thermometer. Divorce papers will be prepared when your iPhone detects,through location tracking and text-message scanning, that you’ve beenunfaithful. Your will could be executed as soon as your Fitbit detects thatyou’re dead.Indiacalling:India is not far behind. In May2014, IBMannounced the acquisition of an AI startup, Cognea, that developed acognitive computing and conversational artificial intelligence platform.
IBMaimed to integrate it with Watson, the company’s question-answeringsupercomputer, for more real conversations with users.Since then, it’s been awave of sorts with technology companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, Google,Amazon and others investing in their own AI efforts while acquiring severalstartups in the space.At Build 2016, the company’s annual developerevent, Microsoft launched its own botframework anda month later in April, Facebooktoo launched its Messenger Platform to build chatbots on. Thetwo announcements gave the companies across the world a chance to bringchatbots to leading messaging services like Skype and Facebook Messenger (alongwith business services like Office 365, Microsoft Teams and Slack) offeringvirtual agents for customer interactions powered by artificial intelligence anddeep-learning.
Parallel to thistransformation, customers have anyway been increasingly adopting virtualassistants like Alexa, Cortana, Siri, Google Assistant or Bixby and gettingcomfortable with the idea of ‘talking to a virtual person.’Conclusion:We see many advantages ofartificial intelligence in law and the legal profession but time will tell howwe overcome challenges, if any. And the biggest challenge I see, is the costapplied to this vis-a-vis affordability and acceptability worldwide, especiallyin developing nations.