All Family Law, All Around the WorldSM

The Artifice of Artificial Intelligence

Considering its sudden appearance in the media, you might think that ChatGPT and other such Artificial Intelligence software is brand new, just emerging, about to inch forward into our lives. You wouldn’t be wrong but you also wouldn’t be right.

In the field of law AI is all the discussion but not yet all the rage. Attorneys, paralegals and administrative staff are concerned about losing their jobs to robots who do the work in less time with far fewer personnel hassles.

Some enterprising attorneys are already advanced in their use of AI in their practices to screen potential clients, stalk them until they retain, create reader content (like blog posts) and even research and draft legal briefs. Probably everyone by now about the attorney who used ChatGPT to draft a brief that made a compelling argument based upon entirely made up precedent. It didn’t end well for that attorney once his folly was exposed.

The argument goes that using AI is like having a small army at your command. If you are a sole practitioner or very small firm, you can punch well above your weight class using AI like an air force of drones. It’s exponential. One person becomes 100. But there’s a math problem here. If you are a small firm and you are going up against another small firm, your force of 100 just goes up against another force of 100. If you are a small firm and you are going up against a large firm, your force of 100 winds up going against a force of 1,000 or 10,000. Ramp it up and ramp it up and it quickly becomes like Mutually Assured Destruction, Armageddon. Nobody wins. Nothing gets done. Everything grinds to a halt if only from the weight of it all. Oh wait, maybe the judiciary can use AI as well and then we can have robots fighting robots and robots deciding the fate of real peoples’ lives. That ought to serve a human institution with human needs quite well. (Read a lot of sarcasm here.)

We are looking into what AI can do and how it does it. Never say never so I won’t assert that we will never use it. The American Bar is arguing that the attorneys who turn a blind eye to this issue are the attorneys who will get the most burned. But right now, I don’t see an upside nearly as great as the downside.

Artificial Intelligence is just that, artificial. It’s made up. It’s conjured up. There is no there, there. I think it might work quite well in an artificial world where only itself existed. (There’s an argument that it will soon arrive at a place where it seeks exactly that outcome.) But to work in the real world, with real people and real issues seeking real outcomes, AI can only produce artificiality. Artificial operation, artificial outcome. All plastic and no flesh. No bones. No heart. No soul.

That doesn’t mean that in the end the humans will prevail. Humanity hasn’t seemed to be too awfully focused on the preservation of itself for a long time. But it does mean that AI will not satisfy human needs. Fundamentally it cannot.

Until we come to that bridge, we will watch, we will learn, we will counter firms that side step their humanity for the convenience of the bot. And we won’t fake it. You won’t read anything from us produced by anything other than a human.

Michael Manely
(Not a bot)