3 October 2023
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has long ceased to be the stuff of science fiction and is now deeply embedded in our daily lives. While it’s essential to understand AI’s incredible capabilities, it’s equally crucial for legal professionals to grasp the risks and challenges that come with using this technology in a legal context. This blog post aims to provide a clear and comprehensive overview of AI, Machine Learning (ML), and Large Language Models (LLMs) for a legal audience.
The ABCs of AI, ML, and LLMs
Firstly, AI is a broad field in computer science aimed at creating machines capable of performing tasks requiring human intelligence. This could range from decision-making to visual perception and natural language understanding.Machine Learning is a transformative subset of AI that allows computers to learn from data. Unlike traditional computing, where humans write specific rules for every task, machine learning enables computers to learn from experience, recognize patterns, and improve over time. Think of it as teaching machines to learn and evolve, much like humans do.
Now, where do Large Language Models (LLMs) fit into this picture? These are specialized machine learning models designed to process and understand human language. A prime example is GPT-3.5, used in the ChatGPT bot, which can perform various natural language processing tasks like language generation, translation, and question-answering. These models are trained on vast amounts of text data to grasp human language intricacies.
Fun Fact: The foundation of LLMs was laid out in a 2017 paper by Google, titled “Attention Is All You Need.”
Risks and Challenges in Legal Contexts
Bias in Datasets
One of the most pressing issues with LLMs is the potential for biased decision-making. If the training data includes biases based on gender, race, religion, or socioeconomic factors, the AI-generated content might perpetuate these biases. Such biased decisions are not only ethically problematic but can also be legally contentious.
Training data limitations also pose a risk. For instance, if the dataset was frozen after the coronavirus pandemic but before events like the war in Ukraine, the model’s responses could be misleadingly skewed, providing a response that may not consider recent geopolitical changes.
Like any other technology, LLMs are susceptible to security risks such as data breaches. In a legal setting where confidentiality is paramount, this could be disastrous.
Transparency and Explainability
Understanding why an AI model made a particular decision can be a challenge. This is a significant issue in the legal field, where explaining the rationale behind decisions is often required.
Adoption and Use Cases in Ediscovery
AI can sift through large bodies of text using natural language queries rather than just keyword searches, making the process more efficient and accurate.
Understanding the origin, meaning, and metadata of files can provide insights into the tone and implications of legal documents.
Text Extraction and Summarization
AI can create quick summaries of relevant or important files, streamlining the document review process.
Document Review and Analysis
Automated classification and ranking of documents based on their relevance or key issues can save countless hours in legal proceedings.
AI, machine learning, and large language models hold enormous potential to revolutionize the legal industry. However, it is essential to navigate the risks carefully, particularly around bias, data limitations, and security issues. As we venture deeper into this brave new world of AI in law, our understanding and mitigation strategies for these challenges must evolve in tandem.
To the lawyers, paralegals, and legal scholars reading this — AI may be the frontier you haven’t ventured into yet, but it’s certainly worth exploring. After all, understanding is the first step to adoption, and adoption could very well be the key to revolutionizing your practice for the better.