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LETTER | AI's inevitability in the legal field

LETTER | While there remains to be no universally accepted notion of artificial intelligence (AI), for purposes of definition, according to Richard Susskind: it involves the determination of cases by human judges just not in physical courtrooms.

Instead, evidence and arguments are submitted through an online service. In turn, judges deliver the decisions not in open court but again via an online platform.

Alternatively, it could also refer to any decision-making in the legal environment that is executed by intelligent software capable of using dispositional algorithms to deliberate on legal cases, producing judgments to be later stored in an online database.

These contrasting yet similar definitions of an AI framework provide for a more diverse understanding of how such a framework may possibly be implemented in the near or far future.

The ethical thought process in legal disputes is inherently convoluting, requiring abstract and conceptual ability. These abilities take numerous forms including abstract thinking, problem-solving, advocacy, client counselling, human emotional intelligence, policy analysis, big-picture strategy and creative thinking.

It is to be considered that legal disputes are a collaborative process. It is a practice that comprises certain fundamental practices that are contingent on fulfilling the virtues of law, including legal professional privilege, and protection from disclosing evidence and personal data without the permission of the client.

Possible mismanagement

What is to be studied is this: if both the traditional and artificial intelligence systems were under question in a time of future coexistence, by what means of resolving dispute is the most ethically superior to the other? What is the most appropriate solution?

Legal ethics, with its focus on rights, individual autonomy and abstracted universal principles focuses on relationships and care, valuing the interdependency and mutuality of such relationships. Legal disputes fall precisely within the realm of legal ethics and cooperative relationships.

This point of reasoning also suggests the uniqueness of the law, as opposed to other industries in that it requires strenuous ethical procedures and moral considerations before an objective decision can be produced. A dispute is a dynamic unpredictable human phenomenon that can travel in numerous directions - entailing that a multifaceted approach must be employed.

An artificially intelligent system of law would arguably be more susceptible to mismanagement, tainting legal judgments altogether - having a detrimental impact on the dispute resolution process.

Its flaws in artificial moral reasoning or its failure to accurately perform abstract and conceptual abilities when attempting to ethically mediate disputes could pose a challenge. This is precisely why there exists a concern about outsourcing the legal mind to an artificially intelligent entity.

The inadequacies of AI and the importance of physical courts over online systems are also to be analysed as the study of these points of contention may point towards the most appropriate means of resolving legal disputes.

AI has been lauded for its modern-day efficiency in several areas of the workforce, replacing previous operational aspects of human-managed industries.

It appears however that there is a steady transition towards the incorporation of AI in the legal field. Generative AI tools have been shown, through machine learning, that they could automate much of the legal field - in case summaries, electronic discoveries, and contract analysis.

At the present rate of technological advancement, the previous ineptitude of AI to comprehensively mediate legal settlements could potentially be resolved.

If true, there is a pressing need for Malaysia to investigate what the future of law will look like in a world where humans and AI will have to collaborate.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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