The use of artificial intelligence (AI) by lawyers has become more prevalent, as it can enhance the effectiveness and precision of legal services provided to clients. However, despite the advanced advantages and benefits offered by AI, it also raises intricate ethical issues related to the legal profession. Lawyers must understand the ethical considerations associated with the use (or non-use) of AI and recognize the potential flaws and biases that AI systems may exhibit.
WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a field of computer science that involves developing machines capable of performing cognitive functions and decision-making processes similar to humans. It draws inspiration from the way human nervous systems function to feel, act, learn, reason, and make decisions. Essentially, AI seeks to create intelligent machines that can mimic human actions and reactions, and perform complex tasks that require human-like intelligence, learned skills, and expertise.
ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
The ethical dilemmas surrounding AI are an ongoing topic of debate. One of the main concerns that people have about AI is its opacity and lack of transparency. This issue is not solely because AI is a new technology, but rather stems from its inherent complexity, which makes it difficult for non-experts to understand how AI systems arrive at their decisions. Because of this, it is challenging to discern how AI operates and arrives at its conclusions. AI is shrouded in secrecy, with only a handful of people privy to its inner workings, leaving outsiders with no insight into the technology’s decision-making processes. If a company claims to abide by all regulatory measures to ensure data protection and claims to offer sufficient transparency but is unable to provide a clear understanding of its AI algorithmic decision-making process, it cannot be considered transparent enough. Even if the company complies with legal obligations, it fails to fulfil its ethical responsibilities. The absence of transparency regarding how AI makes decisions can contribute to a lack of trust among the general public.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN THE LEGAL DOMAIN
The incorporation of AI tools and technologies in the legal sector has revolutionized the way legal professionals work, enabling them to operate with greater precision and efficiency. This has led to a notable increase in the speed and quality of legal services, coupled with a reduction in costs. Moreover, AI has significantly expanded access to justice for many individuals. Although the impact of AI on the legal industry may not be immediately discernible, it has substantially improved the capacity of lawyers and paralegals to prioritize the needs of their clients. The integration of AI technology in law firms augments the abilities of legal professionals. By automating labour-intensive processes, AI provides legal practitioners with more time to concentrate on developing relationships with clients and catering to their requirements. This, in turn, can lead to a host of advantages for clients and the overall profitability of the law firm.
ADVANTAGES OF AI IMPLEMENTATION
- Enhanced Efficiency in Legal Services.
The use of AI technology in law firms optimizes the workflow, enabling legal practitioners to dedicate more time to their client’s requirements. Through AI-driven automation, laborious manual processes such as document retrieval, in-depth research, and invoice generation are streamlined, making them faster and more efficient. As a result, productivity is enhanced, enabling lawyers to allocate more time to billable work and cultivate stronger relationships with their clients.
- Enhanced Accessibility to Legal Services.
The integration of AI in the legal domain has the potential to vastly improve clients’ access to justice. By automating certain elements of civil litigation, a more extensive range of individuals can have access to the courts and judicial systems. Additionally, lawyers who were previously overburdened with workloads will now be able to handle additional cases, thereby increasing their capacity to provide legal assistance to clients. While complete automation of legal counsel and court representation is still a far-off prospect, the implementation of technology that bridges information gaps during contract drafting may potentially reduce litigation.
- Cost Savings.
AI and machine learning have the potential to eliminate hurdles to justice, primarily by mitigating the prohibitive expense of obtaining legal support. Through the automation of laborious and repetitive legal procedures, lawyers can save time and reduce costs for their clients. For instance, research that previously required 15 hours to complete can now be done in just two hours, and the cost savings can be transferred to the client. Furthermore, the time that lawyers save from automating manual tasks can be utilized to provide aid to more clients.
OBSTACLES ENCOUNTERED BY AI IN THE LEGAL INDUSTRY
One of the primary ethical issues with AI is the “black box” problem. This refers to the fact that the process of converting inputs to outputs through AI may not be transparent or understandable to those who are observing or impacted by it. The complexity of the code, the high dimensionality of data, and evolving decision-making logic are all factors that contribute to the opacity of machine learning algorithms.
AI systems can perpetuate discrimination against certain individuals or groups due to biases present in the algorithms. This can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies and stigmatization, which can undermine their participation and autonomy in society. Discrimination can take various forms, and legal systems have established definitions for different types of discrimination, as well as equality laws and thresholds for the fair distribution of outcomes among groups. However, incorporating non-discrimination and fairness into AI systems is challenging. One potential solution is to instruct algorithms to ignore sensitive attributes that could contribute to discrimination, but identifying proxies for these attributes can be difficult, especially when algorithms have access to interconnected datasets.
- Inconclusive Evidence
Algorithms generate knowledge that is uncertain, yet probable when they use inferential statistics and/or machine learning techniques to conclude the processed data. Both computational learning theory and statistical learning theory aim to understand and measure this uncertainty. While statistical methods can detect meaningful correlations, correlations alone may not establish causality, and may not provide a sufficient basis for taking action. The idea of an “actionable insight” acknowledges the inherent uncertainty in statistical correlations and the normative judgment involved in deciding whether to act based on them.
- Protection Of Data Privacy And Private Life
The free flow of data is crucial for the full utilization of AI in machine learning. However, it is also important to ensure that the development of AI adheres to existing legislation regarding data protection, confidentiality, anonymity, fair treatment, and due process. This requires AI to be developed in a safe, secure, and purposeful manner, with proper procedures for data processing. Moreover, the networks in which AI operates must have adequate security measures to prevent security breaches, cyber-attacks, or misuse of personal data, especially when dealing with large amounts of data. To protect users’ privacy, mechanisms should be in place that allow them to stop the processing of their data and exercise their right to be forgotten. However, a potential challenge arises from the need for data in machine learning. Erasing data may impact the ability of the machine to learn and carry out its operations effectively, creating a contradiction with the right to be forgotten.
Undoubtedly, the legal profession is on the brink of a significant transformation due to the integration of AI. By delegating monotonous tasks to AI systems, lawyers will have more opportunities to provide clients with valuable advice, which is the essence of their work. Instead of fearing AI, lawyers have a responsibility to welcome it as a means of adhering to professional ethics. The legal field has the potential to benefit greatly from the implementation of AI. As witnessed in other industries, incorporating AI technology will enhance the effectiveness of legal practice, providing increased access to resources and new possibilities for young legal professionals. However, to fully capitalize on these benefits, it is crucial to develop and utilize AI in a conscientious, equitable, and ethical manner, one that reinforces the rule of law and promotes equal access to justice.
Author(s) Name: Riya Rathore (Dr. B. R. Ambedkar National law University, Sonipat (Haryana))