While optimistic, this CU professor warns lawyers to be cautious when it comes to AI

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For years, University of Colorado Law School professor Harry Sardon has had his finger on the pulse of how artificial intelligence systems are used in legal offices and courts.

Sardon and others in Boulder County said the past two years have seen a dramatic increase in the use of artificial intelligence systems in both the legal and non-legal arenas, prompting legal professionals to consider how the technology can help them. How can the work be completed?

“Lawyers are using AI for a variety of activities from very basic things, you know, to helping them analyze various legal documents to more advanced things like legal analysis, helping them solve legal problems,” Sardon said. And this is a promising area.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Christian Gardner Wood said the Boulder District Attorney's Office is not using OpenAI's ChatGPT or Microsoft's Copilot, but it does use online programs such as Westlaw and Evidence.com that either have new AI features. or plan to implement them soon.

“The information that (artificial intelligence systems) can rely on is not necessarily accurate information,” Gardner-Wood said. “A good example of this is, in the United States, there are lawyers who are court-approved to use AI to help draft motions or draft briefs, and as a result they inadvertently cites bogus case law.”

In addition to his work at CU Boulder, Sardon is also the associate director of CodeX, a center at Stanford University focused on researching legal information and bridging the gap between computer science and law. Although Sardon does not have expertise in criminal law, he said Boulder County prosecutors are in favor of refraining from using open AI systems such as ChatGPT.

Prosecutors have access to the artificial intelligence function on WestLaw, a legal research application used by lawyers and legal professionals, Gardner-Wood said.

“The good thing about this AI is that it's using a well-known database,” Gardner-Wood said. “It's not fetching secret information, it's not cryptic information. It's still using big language models to understand language and answer questions, but it's going directly into the Westlaw database.

Gardner Wood said Microsoft is set to release a version of CoPilot designed specifically for government officials that, according to Microsoft, “streamlines the legal research process, allowing attorneys to access case law.” Wider repositories can be accessed.”

“The advantage of that is, it's going to use the big language model that's been there for AI, but instead of just sending it out to open source data and all over the Internet, if you will, you can make that AI your own. Can be used internally, Gardener-Wood said.

Gardner-Wood said artificial intelligence could be used as a virtual assistant on the district attorney's website, or used by attorneys to search for files or information using plain language.

Sardon said he's optimistic that people will use artificial intelligence more often, but he's careful that it's used well and correctly.

“I'm still optimistic, but now that it's here and accessible, we have to be very careful to use it well and be educated in its limitations,” Sardon said.

AI in policing can be controversial.

In policing, the use of artificial intelligence can be controversial, Sardon said, as some artificial intelligence experts have said they doubt police have the technical background to use it.

“As far as I know, the police are using it primarily for facial recognition of potential suspects or for license plate recognition,” Sardon said. “It has some use for predictive policing, trying to predict where crimes might occur.”

“They're often making mistakes and often have some kind of bias against underrepresented groups. That can be really problematic,” Sardon continued.

Boulder Police Department spokesman Devon Waugh said the department is currently involved in a pilot program for DraftOne, an artificial intelligence system that helps officers limit the time it takes to write reports. Waugh said it's not “traditional AI” and that the department doesn't use artificial intelligence in any other aspect of its policing.

According to the DraftOne website, Axon body cameras are equipped with artificial intelligence that transcribes body camera audio into text. Several other police departments around Boulder County and on the Front Range also use Exxon-brand body cameras, including Lafayette and Longmont.

Carrie Haverfield, spokeswoman for the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, said the office currently uses artificial intelligence technology to search for potential wildfires.

Sardon said people should not assume that legal work based entirely on human judgment is necessarily better than work supported by artificial intelligence systems.

“The criticisms of AI, and they're very valid, are that they have biases and make mistakes, but the status quo is that we use humans who have biases and make mistakes,” Sardon said. Sardon said. “So we shouldn't assume that AI is inherently worse or better than humans. Ultimately, people like me want a safer, fairer legal system that treats people fairly. I think if done carefully So, AI can do this, carefully, carefully and with proper literacy and resources.”

While Sardon said not to trust anyone who says they can predict the future of artificial intelligence systems, he said he believes such systems will constantly improve.

“In a year or two, I don't think we'll be in the same situation where judges and lawyers can easily get it wrong,” Sardon said. “There will be more safeguards to force people to use it properly.”

But for now, Sardon said, “It's like the early days of the Internet. Too unreliable. The law is too cautious about change. People's liberties and property depend on getting things right.

See more at Boulder Daily Camera

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