Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Legal’s AI Rocket Ship Will Be Manned

Dan Currell (AdvanceLaw), Legal’s AI Rocket Ship Will Be Manned:

Will the world still need lawyers once AI gets really good?

The short answer is yes—and I believe it will still be yes no matter how good AI gets. My view is not universally accepted, so I will need to lay it out, and that will involve some claims about what humans are and whether a machine can ever be like that. This will shed considerable light on what lawyers essentially do, and help us to see how machines can help us to be better lawyers. ...

For this post, I will limit myself to three questions:

  1. How are lawyers like humans?
  2. Can AI do what humans do?
  3. Will the world still need lawyers once AI gets really good?

Two really important books
Legal EvolutionArtificial intelligence (AI) has arrived in the legal profession.  Whether we should call it “intelligence” should, I think, be contested—but that is for a later post.  Whatever we call it, machines have matured to the point where every legal leader must urgently consider what advanced machines mean for his or her business.

At the same time, of course, AI has arrived in the world.  Few corners of society, economy and culture will be unaffected.

Fortunately, there are two books to meet this moment.  They can be easily read in self-contained chapters; you can put them both on the nightstand and alternate.  Your bedtime reading will foretell some of the most consequential legal and societal developments of the next decade.

The future of humanity and the future of lawyers are intertwined.  I do not mean to be pessimistic, just descriptive.  A lawyer’s work is an intensification of one core human activity: the placement of facts into categories.  We can see how central this is to being human by how easily we do it; we can notice a core difference between humans and machines by noticing that machines can barely do it at all. ...

When is the last time you had something that could be a legal issue?  Did you hire a lawyer?  Very few lawyers could afford to hire themselves, just as the laborers who hand-made cars prior to the advent of the Model T couldn’t remotely afford to buy one of the cars they made.  Part of the magic of Henry Ford was that he could afford to pay his employees enough to buy the very products they made.  That created much of the middle class that by 1930 was driving cars all over America.

So, AI should increase demand not only for legal services, but possibly also for lawyers.  If that happens, legal’s AI rocket ship will not just be manned—it could employ throngs of new rocketeers.

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