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IEEE to develop legal AI standards

Technology for Lawyers

Published: November 8, 2019

Nice to see the powers that be have the same view of legal AI that I do.
The legal AI landscape is the “Wild West,” and requires standardization, according to Nicolas Economou, chair of the Law Committee of the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems. IEEE is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and creates various standards for those professions.
Quoted in a lengthy article on Artificial Lawyer, Economou stated the obvious: that there are no ways to verify claims that “legal AI” accomplishes the tasks that the sellers of those products claim that they do.
All of those claims, he said, are “just marketing.”
Yes. Also the term “AI” itself, which has no real meaning, is in itself “just marketing.” The term can apply to any number of computing processes—but still, no machine actually has “intelligence.” It just describes very fast computing systems and algorithms. But not intelligence per se. Intelligence itself includes emotions, physical sensations communicative processes, intuitive processes, and a whole range of characteristics that animals, including humans, have that no machine will ever have—the Terminator movies and Ex Machina notwithstanding.
So hopefully first on the plate for IEEE legal AI standards is even defining what “artificial intelligence” is. That should have them stumped for a while, but, you know, they’re smart.
I really hope they take a stab at that first.
But then, on to what Economou is saying. Creating specific benchmarking standards for the processes known as “legal AI” could create the same atmosphere of trust that testing a prescription drug creates before it is marketed (although on a different scale). Any standards, he said, would be more about the implementation than the tech itself—that the developers, sellers and implementers of that technology meet those standards. That the technology’s usage meets the marketing promises. Like doctors applying the correct medicines and procedures.
The standards, which may begin being rolled out as soon as next year, will also involve certifications. Economou likens this to the same ISO certifications for computer security.
I’m sure there will still be pockets of outlaws on the AI horizon, but at least this is a good step toward reigning in the Wild West of legal AI.