January 14, 2023

The Rise of Newer Cognitive Technologies: A Blessing and a Curse to the Future of the Legal Profession and Justice System?

I.            Introduction

As newer cognitive technologies in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) such as natural language processing (NLP), machine learning, and quantum computing continue to develop, it is clear that they will significantly impact the future of the legal profession and justice system. On the other hand, the legal professional and justice systems are constantly evolving in response to societal changes and technological advancements. The speed at which these technologies are continually evolving and improving and their potential to revolutionize a wide range of industries and fields calls for keen attention to be given to them. With what we have seen so far with the automation of processes, such as contract automation and management, virtual law firms, and outcome prediction, it is clear that a lot is going to change in the future. This change could be positive or negative, depending on the level of preparedness. This article will help you understand these newer cognitive technologies; it will reveal the critical organizational challenges a law firm will face regarding the needs of clients, human resources and technological capabilities. Furthermore, it will expose the impact of these technologies on how the law would be litigated and enforced by decision-makers and regulatory agencies and the challenges that incorporating these newer technologies will pose to the law firm and justice system. Finally, it will continue by exploring the advantages, and lastly, if they are any EU laws regulating these technologies.

II.            What are these cognitive technologies, and what do they do?

When we talk of cognitive technologies, we refer to those designed to simulate human cognition or the mental processes associated with thinking, learning, and problem-solving. These technologies include artificial intelligence (AI) and within the field of AI, we have Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine learning and quantum computing. These technologies have unique technicalities that can be used to influence how the legal profession, as well as the justice system, functions.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the most common and widely used cognitive technology. It’s here, and people are already experiencing the power of AI systems. AI are systems that mimic human intelligence by performing tasks. Through repetitions, it can improve how they function based on the information they collect. AI systems can learn, adapt, and make decisions based on data and information. For example, in a law firm or justice system, AI can improve operations and provide better service to clients. We should remember that Artificial intelligence (AI) can be classified as either “strong” or “weak” based on its capabilities and level of intelligence.

Strong AI, also known as artificial general intelligence, is a type of AI capable of learning and adapting to new situations and can perform tasks at a level comparable to or exceeding that of a human. Strong AI has the potential to significantly improve operations and provide better service to clients by automating complex tasks, analyzing large volumes of data to identify patterns and trends, and making decisions based on that analysis. Weak AI, also known as narrow artificial intelligence, is specifically designed to perform a single task or a limited range of functions. Weak AI can improve operations and provide better service to clients by automating routine tasks, such as answering typical clients’ questions or processing large amounts of data.

Natural Language Processing (NLP): NLP is one of the most promising newer cognitive technologies in the field of AI worth keeping an eye on. With this process, a computer system can understand and generate human language. The technology has many applications, including language translation, text analysis, and conversation-based AI systems. It can be used in the legal field in two ways. Firstly, a law firm can use NLP to analyze legal documents and extract essential information, such as the parties involved, the terms of the agreement, and any potential risks or issues. Secondly, legal practitioners can use natural language processing to build chatbots that can answer common legal questions and provide basic legal information to clients, freeing up lawyers to focus on more complex tasks.

Machine learning (ML): Machine learning is another cognitive technology in the newer category that we need to keep an eye on. It is a type of AI that allows a system to learn from data and improve its performance over time. Machine learning is being used in a wide range of applications, including image and speech recognition, and it has the potential to improve the accuracy and efficiency of many tasks significantly. For example, in the legal domain, machine learning algorithms can be used to analyze text in legal documents and identify the sentiment or emotion behind it, helping lawyers understand the text’s context and meaning. ML can also classify and prioritize legal documents, making it easier for lawyers to review and analyze large volumes of records.

Quantum computing (QC): Quantum computing is the last of the newer cognitive technologies we need to follow closely. Quantum computing is a type of computing that uses principles of quantum mechanics to perform calculations. It can significantly increase the speed and power of computing and have significant implications for fields such as cryptography, medicine, and finance. For example, law firms could use quantum computers to secure legal documents and data, as they are much more powerful than classical computers at breaking encryption. However, quantum computers are still in the early stages of development, and it will likely be some time before they can use them in the legal domain.

III.            Necessary organisational challenges of newer cognitive technologies

Within the practice of law and administration of justice, these newer cognitive technologies will pose many challenges in meeting clients’ needs and managing human resources’ technological capabilities.

One of the key challenges would be ensuring that the firm’s use of AI adequately serves clients. In addition, it would require the firm to invest in training and support for clients who need to become acquainted with this kind of technology or may have concerns about how their data is used by a firm using these technologies.

Secondly, there is the challenge of ensuring that the firm’s human resources are equipped with the necessary technological capabilities to use and manage these systems effectively. Law practitioners can overcome this challenge by investing in training and development to help employees, as well as themselves, acquire the necessary skills and knowledge.

Finally, using these technologies will raise ethical and legal issues that legal practitioners must consider and manage carefully. A law firm, for example, will need to ensure that its use of these technology systems does not discriminate against specific individuals or groups and that it is used in a manner that is consistent with the firm’s ethical standards and obligations under the law.

Generally, the effective use of these technologies in the practice of law and the administration of justice will require careful planning and management to ensure that the needs of clients and employees are met and that ethical and legal issues are addressed.

IV.            Impact of these technologies on the way law is litigated

The incorporation and use of these newer technologies are likely to significantly affect how the law is and would be litigated and enforced by decision-makers, including regulatory agencies.

One of the main ways that AI will affect the legal system is by providing decision-makers with more data and information than was previously available. As a result, AI can help decision-makers to make more informed and evidence-based decisions and to reduce the time and resources required to review complex cases. AI systems can also help automate specific tasks and processes, such as identifying relevant legal precedents and analyzing large amounts of data. For example, Machine learning algorithms can predict the likelihood of specific legal outcomes based on past cases, helping lawyers and judges make more informed decisions. Furthermore, the legal profession can use machine learning algorithms to identify patterns in legal documents that may indicate fraudulent activity, helping to prevent fraudulent activity and improve the efficiency of legal processes. This can improve the legal system’s efficiency and allow decision-makers to focus on high-level tasks requiring human judgement and expertise.

Clients may also benefit from cognitive technologies. For example, we see a noticeable benefit in the area of contract review. Clients may use AI to analyze their contracts and identify potential issues or areas of risk, helping them to negotiate better terms and protect their interests.

Finally, using AI in the legal system may also raise issues that must be carefully considered and addressed. For example, there may be concerns about the accuracy and fairness of AI-powered decision-making and the potential for AI systems to be biased or discriminate against specific individuals or groups.

Using these cognitive technologies and AI will likely significantly impact how the law is litigated and enforced by decision-makers, including regulatory agencies. AI will also affect access to justice and how clients solve their legal problems. Since AI-powered tools and technologies may make it easier for individuals to access more legal information and resources, clients can improve their ability to solve their legal problems. Therefore, these changes will require careful consideration and management of the technology systems to ensure that the legal system continues to operate effectively and fairly.

V.            Are cognitive technologies a blessing and a curse of the legal profession?

The rise of cognitive technologies in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) such as natural language processing (NLP), machine learning, and quantum computing, is likely to bring blessings and curses for the legal profession’s future.

On the one hand, these technologies have the potential to significantly improve the practice of law and the administration of justice. For example, AI and other cognitive technologies can automate and streamline tasks and processes, such as analyzing large amounts of legal data, identifying relevant precedents, and generating legal documents. As a result, it will save time and resources and improve the accuracy and efficiency of the firm’s work. However, there are a few downsides regarding identifying relevant precedents and generating documents. One such worry is that it may be difficult for users of AI systems to understand how they arrived at a particular result or recommendation. Then, again, there is the issue of data security and privacy. Using AI in legal contexts also raises concerns about data security and privacy. AI systems may be used to process and analyze large amounts of sensitive legal data, which could be vulnerable to unauthorized access or misuse. This may explain the recent ban in France against using data concerning the identity of judges to evaluate, analyze, compare or predict their actual or supposed professional practices.

In addition, these technologies can also help to improve the accessibility and affordability of legal services for clients. For example, AI-powered chatbots can provide clients with answers to common legal questions and help them navigate the legal system. As a result, it will help make legal services more accessible and affordable for clients, particularly those who cannot afford traditional legal services.

Another benefit of these technologies is that it enhances security and privacy. Quantum computing, in particular, has the potential to improve the security and confidentiality of sensitive legal data significantly. This technology can encrypt and protect data, making it more difficult for unauthorized parties to access or tamper.

However, the rise of cognitive technologies will also likely bring challenges to the legal profession. For example, these technologies have the potential to automate many tasks and processes that lawyers and other legal professionals currently perform. For example, AI-powered legal research tools can quickly search through vast amounts of legal information, such as case law and statutes, to help lawyers and legal professionals find relevant information faster. Secondly, AI-powered tools can help lawyers and legal professionals review and analyze large volumes of documents, such as contracts or discovery materials, by extracting relevant information and highlighting key points. Thirdly, AI-powered predictive analytic tools can help lawyers and legal professionals anticipate the outcomes of legal cases and make more informed decisions about how to proceed.

Furthermore, AI-powered tools can assist lawyers, and legal professionals in drafting legal documents by suggesting language and formatting options based on prior examples and best practices. In addition, AI-powered tools can help organizations identify and address potential compliance issues, such as identifying potential conflicts of interest or detecting fraudulent activity. However, this could lead to job losses and other disruptions in the legal profession, as some workers may find their skills and knowledge become less valuable in a world where AI and other cognitive technologies are widely used.

Furthermore, using cognitive technologies in the legal system may also raise ethical and legal issues that must be carefully considered and addressed. For example, there may be concerns about the accuracy and fairness of AI-powered decision-making and the potential for AI systems to be biased or discriminate against specific individuals or groups. For example, on 15 July 2022, NL Times reported on a dutch student of VU University Amsterdam who filed a complaint at the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights in Utrecht because the software used by her university to monitor cases of cheating did not recognize her dark skin. As a result, while she took her exams, the light was pointing straight at her face, but this wasn’t the case with her coursemates, who were white. Another instance of AI bias is the case reported by Politico on 16 March 2021. In January of that year, the Dutch government resigned over a scandal where an algorithm used to predict who is likely to falsely claim child benefits led to tax authorities singling out 26,000 parents of dual nationalities and ethnic minorities to pay back over tens of thousands of euros.

In essence, the rise of cognitive technologies will likely bring blessings and curses for the legal profession’s future. These technologies have the potential to significantly improve the practice of law and the administration of justice. However, they also have the potential to disrupt the legal profession and raise complex ethical and legal issues. Therefore, it will be necessary for policymakers, legal professionals, and other stakeholders to carefully consider these challenges and take steps to address them to ensure that the benefits of these technologies are realized, and their potential drawbacks are minimized.

VI.            What are the applicable laws in the European Union about cognitive technologies such as AI, natural language processing, machine learning and Quantum computing

There are several applicable laws in the European Union (EU) concerning cognitive technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing (NLP), machine learning, and quantum computing. Some of the critical laws and regulations that apply in this area include the following:

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): This regulation applies to processing personal data by AI systems and other cognitive technologies, and it sets out some rules and requirements for protecting the privacy and security of personal data. The GDPR restricts the use of personal data to make automated decisions about individuals by establishing a right for individuals.

The ePrivacy Directive: This directive applies to using NLP and other cognitive technologies in electronic communications, such as through chatbots or virtual assistants. It sets out rules for protecting the confidentiality of electronic communications. It requires that users be informed and consent before their data is processed.

The European Parliament resolution on civil law rules on robotics is not binding. However, it guides how EU member states should regulate AI and other cognitive technologies. It recommends several principles and regulations, including that AI systems should be designed to be transparent, accountable, and safe and that they should not discriminate against individuals or groups.

Lastly, several laws and regulations in the EU apply to cognitive technologies such as AI, NLP, machine learning, and quantum computing. These laws and regulations aim to protect individuals’ privacy, security, and rights and ensure that these technologies are used responsibly and ethically. A case in point is the proposed Regulation on Artificial Intelligence, published in April 2021, which aims to establish a framework for developing and using AI in the EU. The regulation covers many AI-related areas, including its development, deployment, and use. It includes provisions on the ethical and legal principles that should guide the development and use of AI, as well as measures to ensure the safety and security of AI systems. The regulation further includes provisions a the liability of AI systems and their developers, as well as the rights of individuals concerning the use of AI. It also establishes a system for the certification of AI systems to ensure that they meet certain reliability and safety standards.

VII.            Conclusion

In conclusion, the rise of these cognitive technologies will significantly impact the legal profession. This could be both good and bad, depending on how we manage them. For example, if we use AI to automate specific tasks, it could free up lawyers’ time to focus their efforts on more complex cases or work with clients directly. On the other hand, if we rely too heavily on these new technologies without understanding how they work, there may be unforeseen consequences when an error occurs in court proceedings which could result in severe consequences for everyone involved.

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About Remy Takang Arrey
Remy Takang Arrey is a Cameroonian legal professional who currently resides in Belgium. Remy has experience across multiple fields: EU Affairs, International and EU business law, Intellectual Property and ICT Law, Data Protection, Globalisation and Development, Digital Marketing Strategy, etc. In addition, He has multidisciplinary knowledge of the international environment from legal, economic, technological, and globalisation challenges, development issues, and poverty reduction owing to his MSc, LLM and LLB degrees. As an individual curious and eager to learn and explore new challenges, Remy is interested in knowing how the new waves of technology will affect the legal profession. He has a great passion for using technology to improve the legal industry. In his spare time, he enjoys staying up-to-date on the latest developments in legal tech and exploring ways to apply these tools in his work. He believes that legal tech has the potential to make the legal process more efficient, accessible, and transparent, and he is excited to be a part of this growing field.

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