AI – a tool for the law, or its digital master?

18 November 2019 by

AI - Henry Brooke Lecture

In the latest Henry Brooke Lecture (12th November, hosted by BAILII and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer), Supreme Court Justice Lord Sales warned that the growing role of algorithms and artificial intelligence in decision making poses significant legal problems.

He cited as an example a recent case in Singapore. The judge had to decide on mistake in contract – except that the two contracting parties were both algorithms. In that instance the judge was able to identify the human agents behind the programmes, but that will soon not be the case.

In the Q & A following the lecture it was observed that there should be a distinction between AI and algorithms being tools for lawyers as opposed to lawyers and laws being the tools for use of AI. The “huge emancipatory opportunities” being offered by technology could be lost if we silently subject ourselves to all its processes.

Today the United Kingdom releases its statement on cryptocurrencies and smart contracts. The UK Jurisdiction Taskforce’s legal statement on the status of cryptoassets and smart contracts under English and Welsh law seeks to address legal uncertainty by recognising cryptoassets as tradable property and smart contracts as enforceable agreements under English law.

Our digital overlords are gaining traction everywhere, and law is vulnerable.

Listen to Rosalind English talk to Emily Foges, CEO of Luminance, an Artificial Intelligence programme for the legal profession, about the practical applications of algorithms to the law. Is this a way of availing ourselves of the codes before they avail themselves of us?

Law Pod UK is available on Spotify, iTunes, Audioboom, Podbean, iHeart, Radio Public, Deezer or wherever you listen to our podcasts. Please remember to rate and review us if you like what you hear.

If you are interested in learning more, we have covered the impact of A.I. on the law in previous episodes linked below:

Law Pod UK Ep. 71: Are our legal tools fit for A.I.? with Jacob Turner, author of Robot Rules.

Law Pod UK Ep. 40: How A.I. and algorithms impact on regulation and adjudication

Law Pod UK Ep. 34: Will A.I. outwit our laws?

Law Pod UK Ep. 10: How A.I. is set to change the legal profession

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