September 13, 2019

AI Basics: What Business Lawyers Need to Know

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly moving into the mainstream. From chatbots attempting to provide online help and social media face tagging to smartphone voice assistants and autonomous vehicles, applications using some form of AI have entered daily life. Many such applications are available today, as services – requiring little or no technical knowledge to implement in products or services. As a result, business lawyers – not just those who work with cutting edge technology startups, but everyone – need to know at least something about AI to effectively advise their clients.

AI is already being used almost everywhere – for example, in aviation, education, finance, trading, market analysis, data mining, underwriting, medicine, marketing, customer service, gaming, self-driving vehicles, news, music, employment decisions, credit determinations, evidence, bail and parole decisions, sentencing, and more. In law practices alone, e-discovery, legal research, contract management and drafting, data analytics, due diligence, tracking changes to and compliance with regulations, and transaction valuation and prediction are all starting to be done using some form of AI technique.

As well, you can buy AI tools as services, and put your own applications together. Google, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and IBM all offer some combination of natural language and image processing. These can be relatively lower level, like speech-to-text, text-to-speech, translation, and image searching. These can also be more complicated, such as analyzing natural language for sentiment or emotion, analyzing images to recognize objects, powering chatbot answers, and turning scattered bits of information into coherent narratives. And machine learning tools help improve all these services and make new ones.