AI and the practice of law (Part 2)

Fringes and Frontiers
AI and the practice of law (Part 2)

The essence of the law is “anthropological.”  The subject of both law and justice, the end of which is the betterment of the world is the human person.  Take away the human person from the picture and all discussions on law and justice would not mean anything.

Recently, the Vatican through its Center for Digital Culture of the Dicastery for Education and Culture published the ITEC Handbook in collaboration with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics of the Jesuit Santa Clara University. 

Two significant points deserve emphasis.  First, regardless of how we view AI, it does pose a serious call to strengthen our ethical standards.  In a pluralistic society where ethical standards vary in terms of their ontological foundation, it is not easy to arrive at a point of convergence.  Law which is the point of convergence ought to contemplate on this.

Second, AI is a gamechanger in the business landscape and the legal profession is a necessary partner of businesses.  The entry of AI does not just make the legal profession a partner in the technical sense but also in the ethical sense.

The ITEC handbook tells us: “if industry leaders do not quickly adopt an actionable and reliable legal and ethical framework with demonstrable effectiveness, they will quickly find themselves trapped in a quagmire of inconsistent and even contradictory laws and regulations.”

Years ago, Jürgen Habermas said in his “Between Facts and Norms” that “law, as it were, compensates for the functional weaknesses of morality.”  I believe that it is in the harmonization of laws and regulations in the face of AI’s rapid effects on the current socio-economic landscape that not only the legal profession but the law itself should come into the picture. 

If law is an instrument of justice and justice as the very aspiration of all human beings, a significant question for those in the legal practice would very well relate to the seven principles that are highlighted by the Markkula Center. 

We may express the principles in interrogative form: (1) how can the use of AI be harmonized to the universal value of respect for human dignity and rights? (2) How can AI promote human well-being?  (3) How does the use of AI strengthen our investment in humanity? (4) How do we ensure that AI is a means towards the promotion of justice, its accessibility, protection of diversity, equity, and inclusion? (5) How shall we use AI so that humanity through its laws can better protect the environment and recognize that earth is for all forms of life? (6) How will the legal profession use AI to Maintain accountability in the various spheres of economic relations particularly in education? (7) How does AI promote transparency in governance?

If we go back to Alain Badiou who says that the role of the philosopher is to look for problems and thereby create a “philosophical situation”, then we can say that the seven questions above mentioned are good starting points for a philosophical-legal discussion on AI and the practice of law.

Klaus Schwab the father of the 4th Industrial Revolution already saw a few years ago the effects of rapid technological changes particularly AI on human relations and the legal profession are not excluded. 

In the meantime, there is no quick answer to the questions. More discussions must unfold. But one thing is clear, the end of law is the humanization of society, which includes the defense of human rights and social justice in all phases of human relations.  AI must be an instrument to achieve this.*

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