Artificial Intelligence and the Practice of Law

Navigant and the American Bar Association Section of Litigation recently sponsored a forum for legal and technology experts

The Law + Innovation program explored how artificial intelligence (AI) is causing dramatic changes across all industries, while creating new challenges and opportunities for those in the legal profession.

Legal scholars, top-tier attorneys, and technology specialists examined how AI is affecting the law today, while also forecasting how it will affect the profession in the future.

The Law + Innovation program was organized by Navigant and the ABA Section of Litigation. It was hosted by the Chicago law offices of Winston & Strawn LLP, and broadcast across the globe as a webcast.

Legal scholar Gary Marchant framed the discussion by tracing the evolution of AI across industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare, consumer products, and the military.

Because all industries intersect with the legal profession, Marchant said law is affected by AI in two ways: the liability and litigation issues resulting from new uses of AI, and how AI can help lawyers work more efficiently.

“We are heading toward this real revolution in terms of how artificial intelligence is going to change our profession and the world around us,” said Marchant, Regent’s Professor of Law at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University.

Marchant identified a host of potential liability issues stemming from the increasing use of AI. Consider the growing use of robots in surgical procedures. Will physicians face greater liability should a robotic system fail during a surgery? Or could a doctor be sued for not using a robot?

“What will be the standard of care that we will expect these machines to achieve?” Marchant said. “There will also be the question of, at some point, will it be malpractice not to use these machines; to use a human surgeon rather than a machine if the machine is more precise?”

Similarly, the auto industry is confronting liability concerns as it manufactures more driverless cars, Marchant said. While autonomous vehicles might prove to be safer than human-driven cars, who is liable should an AI-controlled auto be involved in an accident? And should manufacturers receive government protection from lawsuits because autonomous cars are proven to increase overall safety on the roads?

“The projection is that [autonomous cars] will greatly reduce traffic accidents because 90 percent of accidents are caused by drivers. But every time there is an accident involving an autonomous car, chances are there will be a lawsuit against the manufacturer,” Marchant said.

“This is going to be this big mega issue: What kinds of liability protections should these manufacturers get?” Marchant continued. “Should autonomous cars receive some protections because it’s a socially beneficial technology being put out of business by liability?”

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