AI has existed for more than 60 years, and since its earliest days, we’ve been studying the way it works and the way it may assist human beings in their professions. In 1966, a U.S. government-established team of seven scientists, the Automatic Language Processing Advisory Committee (ALPAC), generated a report that criticized machine translation research up until that point, leading the U.S. government to reduce its funding of AI efforts. In fact, AI research did not pick up again until the 1980s, when knowledge engineering became a major focus of the field. “Investment and interest in AI boomed in the first decades of the 21st century when machine learning was successfully applied to many problems in academia and industry due to new methods, the application of powerful computer hardware, and the collection of immense data sets,” Wikipedia notes. (Learn more from Wikipedia’s History of Artificial Intelligence and ALPAC pages.)
In this NewsBreak, I will define how AI is used and explore how it applies to the legal profession, as well as what its future means for lawyers, law librarians, and other information providers. I will address some of the problems inherent in AI while also illustrating some of the benefits of using it to complete tasks.
In June, a federal judge imposed $5,000 fines on two legal professionals and a law firm in a case in which ChatGPT was blamed for their submission of fabricated legal research in an injury claim. AI can “invent” facts, and the use of synthetic intelligence generation to write briefs can turn out to be problematic for lawyers who do not double-check their work. While using AI may be handy, saving time for human beings, it has its quirks, including the capacity to create fake records.
If you’ve ever used a chatbot or websites like Grammarly or Zia, then you’ve used AI technology. AI software programs include chatbots, digital assistants, speech recognition tools, and predictive analytics equipment. I recently built a resume using AI and found that 1) AI built “phrases” that I could add to my resume according to a list of skill sets I chose, and 2) the skill sets were broken up by profession, causing me to have to “search” for skill sets in other professions besides librarianship. The phrases generated by AI were also quite lengthy, making the resume too long. I felt like I had to put in more work just to verify that the “phrases” were indeed correct. This example illustrates that the use of AI may save a person time and assist with their thought processes, but it has to be used carefully and requires human oversight.
Implications for the Future
Next-gen technology like synthetic intelligence and analytics will play a key role in boosting commercial enterprise innovation and development in our post-pandemic environment, in addition to spurring new commercial enterprise models. According to Harvard Business Review (citing PwC figures), 52% of businesses surveyed increased their AI adoption plans due to COVID-19. And 86% of companies say that AI is turning into a “mainstream technology” at their enterprise.
Next-gen technology will give civil litigants the potential to carry out research and draft papers. Generative AI will change the way that law is practiced and justice is dispensed. Despite AI becoming popular in the legal profession, it has caused headaches for lawyers due to accuracy worries and confidentiality problems.
In June, OpenAI was hit with what could be the first defamation lawsuit over fictitious facts generated by ChatGPT. Chatbots don’t have a dependable manner of differentiating truth from fiction, and when queried for information, mainly to verify that something true, they often invent dates, facts, and figures, along with fake legal information.
Government legislation regulation requires that the use of AI tools be explainable and unbiased. President Joe Biden issued a Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued guidance based on its “significant concerns that AI tools can be inaccurate, biased, and discriminatory by design and incentivize relying on increasingly invasive forms of commercial surveillance.” Moreover, in technical assistance documents, the Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) warned employers against the use of algorithms that do not account for disabilities.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is a federal regulation created in 1996 that protects internet platforms from legal liability based on user-generated content. However, generative AI isn’t necessarily protected by law and has not yet reached the courts.
AI Use in Libraries
AI enhances classification systems, helping librarians to improve search-and-recall efforts. Librarians are using AI to analyze digital collections, identify subjects, and add metadata. Library management systems are progressing due to advancements in AI. AI tools within a library’s circulation services can be used to make recommendations based on a user’s previous searches and borrowing patterns, which will ensure more personalized and intuitive services.
Today, one objective of library professionals is to assist patrons with AI and data literacy. AJE reports, “When libraries help patrons gain AI literacy, they provide the skills needed for people to confidently participate in and engage with a society that is employing more artificial intelligence tools and processes each day.”
Libraries collect statistics that are gathered through circulation and usage records. The inclusion of AI into library analytics is a logical one because its purpose lies in using data to identify patterns in near-instantaneous scenarios.
The following are some helpful reminders for when you’re using AI in research and at your library or organization:
- Familiarize yourself with the National AI Initiative Act of 2020 (enacted) and the Algorithmic Justice and Online Platform Transparency Act (2021).
- Learn about the dangers of AI usage.
- Develop an AI generation policy that addresses the deployment of AI generation in your organization. Policy statements should aim to outline key considerations for the use of AI technologies. Include information regarding a user’s privacy, AI and copyright law, and transparency.
- Ensure that your library or library community has the desired infrastructure and technology to apply AI tools.
- Ensure that any use of AI technologies in libraries is subject to clear ethical standards and safeguards the rights of users.
- Help library patrons develop digital literacies that include an understanding of how AI and algorithms work.
- Keep in mind the ethical consideration of privacy. Outputs of AI-driven analysis can reveal personal or sensitive information, and librarians may be able to help patrons retain their privacy and personal data.
- Decide what specific technologies and platforms to invest in. Aside from putting money into AI tools, you must also invest in your staff by training them to use the technology.
The use of AI will continue. The question is how it will evolve in the future, how humans will adapt to it, and how, or in what circumstances, they will choose to apply it.