Artificial Intelligence: The Relentless Hype
Last week, controversial gadfly/legal-tech company DoNotPay offered $1 million to any lawyer daring enough to deliver an oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court by donning a set of AirPods and repeating whatever the company’s chatbot whispers into his or her ear. I’m not sure what this says about the state of artificial intelligence, but it sounds to me like a P.T. Barnum-level marketing move. (I mean, look: I’m writing about it now. Well played, DoNotPay!)
This robo-lawyer concept is not without precedent. As I’ve mentioned ad nauseum, I wrote an article a few years back exploring AI and its potential for writing briefs. Among other things, I touched on IBM’s Project Debater, in which IBM’s computer went head-to-head with two expert human debaters in a live event. According to IBM, the computer swayed at least some of the spectators. This led one commentator to suggest that Project Debater might be “Your Next Lawyer.” Fast-forward to last week.
DoNotPay’s prize offer may not represent a technical leap, but it may suggest a leap in confidence. Then again, it could be pure hype—after all, DoNotPay has received mixed reviews, so a weapons-grade publicity stunt might be just the thing to boost public faith. I say “stunt” because I don’t expect any serious lawyer to take the offer—especially a lawyer who practices before the nation’s highest court. The whole thing is fraught with ethical issues that lawyers won’t be able to stomach. (And of course, the Court won’t allow it in the first place.)
Now, if DoNotPay were to offer to write a Supreme Court brief that a lawyer could adopt and sign, they might be onto something. Stay tuned.
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