AI-powered ‘robot lawyer’ to appear in US court for the first time
An artificial intelligence-powered chatbot will appear in court next month to help a defendant fight a traffic ticket, CBS News reports. “Robot Lawyer”, the first of its kind, is an experimental step to explore the capabilities of increasingly sophisticated AI tools.
Consumer-focused technology company DoNotPay is behind the AI-powered legal assistant. The company’s CEO, Joshua Browder, said the company’s creation runs on a smartphone that hears court arguments.
The information is fed through an AI program that presents legal arguments to the defendant through wireless headphones in real-time. When asked by Gizmodo if the court was aware of AI legal counsel during the trial, Browder replied, “Absolutely not.”
Phones and Internet-based devices are banned from court proceedings in many countries and jurisdictions around the world. To get around the restrictions, Browder said his company asked the court to allow Apple AirPods for hearing access, according to Gizmodo.
Browder says the ultimate goal of his creation is to make legal representation free and accessible. However, due to current legal hurdles, he has no plans for commercialization anytime soon. “This courtroom stuff is more litigation,” he explained to CBS.
“It’s more to encourage the system to change.” He also knows that “there are a lot of lawyers and bar associations that don’t support it.” Nicholas Sadie, an attorney at Pryor Cashman who advises on the use of AI in business and the practice of law, said Browder’s plan risks violating state laws requiring lawyers to be licensed.
“Is this the practice of informal law?” asked Politico. In his opinion, no matter how advanced AI is, people are better off hiring lawyers in real life. Without the ability to read body language or make strategic decisions in real-time, “AI doesn’t seem ready to stand on its own two feet on the court,” he said.
On the other hand, Boston attorney Matt Henson believes the AI-powered litigator is a promising innovation. Henson, chair of the American Bar Association’s Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Committee, said DoNotPay’s chatbot could provide legal assistance in low-stakes scenarios where individuals would otherwise be left unrepresented.
“There are plenty of legal mistakes that go uncorrected because it’s not worth a lawyer getting involved,” Henson said.