The introduction of AI content generators, such as ChatGPT, has sparked interest and excitement within the legal field. These tools have the potential to interpret the law, provide access to justice, educate individuals about legal matters, write legal documents and contracts, offer legal aid, support decision-making, and facilitate lawyer-client communications. However, professors Nicolas Vermeys and Karim Benyekhlef from Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Law highlight two significant concerns regarding the control and utilization of these tools.
The Challenge of Region-Specific Laws
Professor Vermeys raises a valid point about the challenges of applying AI content generators to region-specific laws. Unlike fields such as medicine or science that have universal principles, the law varies based on the jurisdiction. For instance, Canadian criminal law applies only within Canada, while Quebec’s civil law applies solely within Quebec. This regional specificity poses a risk of obtaining inaccurate legal information from AI content generators. Vermeys emphasizes that these algorithms are often trained on datasets that may not adequately represent the legal landscape of specific regions. As a result, relying solely on AI-generated content for legal advice could lead to misleading or incorrect information.
Another concern arises from the design of tools like ChatGPT. Vermeys highlights that ChatGPT prioritizes providing the most likely answer rather than the best answer. This design choice raises questions about the authenticity of the generated responses. Vermeys shares an example of his own experience with ChatGPT, where he asked the tool to cite his most important published studies. Instead of providing accurate information, the tool referred to non-existent studies and even misattributed one study to him. This lack of reliability and potential for false information poses a risk to users who rely heavily on AI-generated responses.
With the rise of AI content generators, the issue of content control and responsibility arises. Vermeys raises important copyright concerns. Who should be held responsible if AI tools like ChatGPT use copyrighted content without permission? Additionally, there is a risk of AI tools providing answers that include personal information, potentially violating privacy rights. These ethical and legal dilemmas need to be addressed to ensure the responsible use of AI in the legal field.
The Role of AI in Improving Access to Justice
Despite the challenges and risks, Professor Benyekhlef believes that AI content generators can be employed judiciously to improve access to justice. He mentions the Justicebot tool developed at UdeM Cyberjustice Laboratory, which provides individuals with information about their rights. Benyekhlef also highlights PARLe, an online conflict resolution platform that has successfully resolved 65% of disputes submitted to it. However, he emphasizes that AI tools and bots should be limited to handling common, low-stakes issues such as consumer or neighborly disputes. In more complex cases, the involvement of lawyers and judges is still necessary to ensure accurate and fair legal outcomes.
The Limitations of AI Content Generators
Both professors acknowledge the limitations of AI content generators in fully comprehending the nuances and perspectives involved in legal arguments. Benyekhlef argues that AI’s treatment of individuals as equals, without considering the intricacies of their circumstances, can lead to inadequate outcomes. Justice must consider the human element and other contextual factors that AI may overlook. These tools lack the ability to adapt to changes in the legal landscape over time, making human expertise essential in complex cases that require legal insight and experience.
The use of AI content generators in the legal field presents both opportunities and challenges. While these tools can enhance access to justice and simplify low-stakes disputes, they are not a substitute for the expertise and discernment of lawyers and judges. The region-specific nature of legal systems and the potential for inaccuracies and fabrications highlight the need for caution and responsible utilization of AI in the legal field. As the field continues to evolve, striking the right balance between technological advancements and human expertise will be crucial in ensuring the fair and just application of the law.