January/February 2020

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The ABA Tackles Artificial Intelligence and Ethics

Sharon D. Nelson & John W. Simek

The majority of lawyers don’t know a lot about artificial intelligence (AI). Everyone has heard the hype, few know the reality, and everyone groans when the words “robot lawyer” are spoken.

There may really be robot lawyers one day, but not any day soon. Still, we are being shaped by AI in ways we have not yet fully grasped.

ABA Resolution 112

On Aug. 12, 2019, the ABA House of Delegates passed Resolution 112, which states:

“RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges courts and lawyers to address the emerging ethical and legal issues related to the usage of artificial intelligence (“AI”) in the practice of law including: (1) bias, explainability, and transparency of automated decisions made by AI; (2) ethical and beneficial usage of AI; and (3) controls and oversight of AI and the vendors that provide AI.”

The authors are delighted to see this resolution passed. Kudos to the ABA’s SciTech Section for bringing the resolution forward and forming a working group to address these issues.

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