Artificial intelligence

Almost two decades ago, the word “globalization” was the buzzword on everyone’s lips.

Almost two decades ago, the word “globalization” was the buzzword on everyone’s lips.

In particular, I always thought about Thomas Friedman’s 1999 book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, which famously compared globalization to a sunrise. My reading of Friedman was that whether you were for globalization or against it was besides the point. Globalization was inevitable.

Fast forward to an age where (almost) everyone has a smartphone in their hand. Much ado has been made about the use of artificial intelligence, in the legal profession and beyond.

This issue of Law Times presents varying takes on the power of AI and the ethical implications of its use. In one piece, Petra Molnar, a researcher with the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program at the Faculty of Law, says that “without appropriate safeguards and oversight, the use of AI is very risky.”

Molnar and her colleagues have worked on a report that recommends independent oversight of automated decision-making by government. James Kosa, who practises with clients using AI, has a different take.

“I encourage the authors and government to not abandon AI as a potential tool but also to look at how to do it properly so that they can achieve its objectives of efficiency, the cost effectiveness and reliability without sacrificing human rights,” he says.

In another feature that looks at how lawyers run their practices, Isi Caulder, a partner at Bereskin & Parr LLP in Toronto and co-leader of the firm’s artificial intelligence practice group, says that AI will be “ubiquitous” with time.”

The advent of artificial intelligence — and the convenience it can afford — may be commonplace 20 years from today. The questions will be how its use is controlled and regulated, if at all.

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