Artificial intelligence: Legal concerns, applications

Feb. 6, 2017
by Mark Ollig

Geographically located southeast of Australia, New Zealand is undertaking the legalities of artificial intelligence (AI).

“A three-year project to evaluate legal and policy implications of artificial intelligence for New Zealand,” reads the message on the Artificial Intelligence and Law webpage of New Zealand’s University of Otago.

All of us have some understanding of what artificial intelligence is.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines artificial intelligence as “an area of computer science that deals with giving machines the ability to seem like they have human intelligence; the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior.”

AI will be merged with future autonomously driven cars, robotics and machines used in manufacturing companies, healthcare facilities, businesses, and in-home Internet of Things (IoT) devices; including the home vacuum cleaner of the future I mentioned in last week’s column.

Please note this column will continue to be written by a human; namely, yours truly.

AI technologies are able to learn and adapt for themselves, according to Professor Colin Gavaghan, head of the University of Otago’s three-year project: Artificial Intelligence and Law.

“Posing fascinating legal, practical, and ethical challenges,” are among concerns mentioned about AI technologies, according to Gavaghan.

“If intelligent machines are employed by companies, might we need legal mechanisms for defining their obligations and rights? Should they perhaps be regarded as ‘legal persons,’ for some purposes?” These are two of the questions being addressed by the Artificial Intelligence and Law project.

This project is funded by a $400,000 grant from the New Zealand Law Foundation organization.

This organization sites a specific application being used by some police departments here in the US called PredPol, a crime prevention software platform.

Being curious, I visited their website and learned PredPol means “predictive policing.”

PredPol began as a research project with UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Using historical data, mathematicians, behavioral scientists, and police data, they determined the three best pieces of information to use for crime forecasting are: crime type, crime location, and crime data and time.

“The theory is that you prevent them from committing the crime to begin with . . . burglars and thieves work in a mathematical way, whether they know it or not,” said Police Chief Galen Carroll of Modesto, CA, in a quote taken from the Modesto Bee newspaper.

“Predictive policing” is a term I had not heard of before, but it reminds me of the 2002 Steven Spielberg sci-fi movie, “Minority Report.”

This movie takes place in 2054, and finds law enforcement using a “future-seeing” division called the Pre-Crime unit.

The protagonist; Chief John Anderton, played by actor Tom Cruise, is arrested long before he commits the crime for which he is charged: a homicide Anderton is seen carrying out – in the future.

The website for PredPol is http://www.predpol.com.

Some law firms are currently using artificial intelligence legal services provided by a Canadian company called ROSS Intelligence.

Their website’s front page reads: “Supercharge lawyers with artificial intelligence.”

ROSS (not an acronym) is an artificial intelligence, cloud-based, legal assistant program human lawyers can consult with from any Internet-accessible device.

Legal research can be supported by using ROSS, proposes the ROSS Intelligence YouTube video titled: “Meet ROSS, Your Brand New Artificially Intelligent Lawyer.”

This video can be seen at http://bit.ly/2krsB36.

Questions can be asked of ROSS using the same natural language one would use speaking with a human lawyer.

Andrew Arruda, a former lawyer, and co-founder of ROSS Intelligence, recently gave a detailed presentation about artificial intelligence and how ROSS operates, during a Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) conference in France.

He nicely summed up AI as four technologies: machine learning, natural language processing, visual recognition, and speech recognition.

Arruda said they created ROSS to answer legal research questions, and intelligently collaborate with the human lawyer performing the research.

He also stated how ROSS becomes “smarter each and every single day” through its interactions with human lawyers.

Andrew Arruda’s informative presentation was uploaded to YouTube by CCBE, and can be watched here: http://bit.ly/2kR1KP9.

Young people studying to become a lawyer may want to consider the legal research services provided by an AI lawyer assistant.

You can freely interact with this HI (human intelligence) via Twitter at @bitsandbytes.

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