Benjamin Alarie and Abdi Aidid are legal experts who are heavily involved in the development of legal technology. They are releasing a new book, The Legal Singularity: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Law Radically Better later this year.
Benjamin Alarie is a tax law professor at the University of Toronto and has been in the tax law profession since 2004. He became interested in the future of legal education and how artificial intelligence will affect the profession, which led him to co-found Blue J, a legal technology company in Toronto. On the other hand, Abdi Aidid practiced as a commercial litigator in New York before becoming the Vice President of Legal Research at Blue J. He led the team of lawyers and research analysts and helped develop AI-informed predictive tools, which predict how future courts are likely to rule on new legal situations. Abdi is now a full-time law professor at the University of Toronto, teaching subjects like torts and civil procedure.
Naming the book “The Legal Singularity” is a big claim by the authors, so we asked them to explain what they meant by it. According to Abdi Aidid, the legal singularity is the practical elimination of legal uncertainty and its impact on our institutions and society. It is a future state where the law is unknowable in real time and on demand, and we can start doing things that we were not previously able to do because the law was either difficult to ascertain or we did not have a normative consensus around what the law ought to be. The concept of the legal singularity is related to the idea of a technological singularity, but it is not a totalizing event like the technological singularity. Instead, it is an equally socially important concept that focuses on how technological improvements affect the law and related institutions.
Alarie and Aidid suggest that the legal market needs to address bias in AI tools by keeping humans in the loop in arbitration and judicial contexts for a significant period of time. They believe that even as the legal singularity approaches and people begin to have confidence in algorithmic decision making, humans should still be involved in the process to audit machine-generated decisions. They argue that this is necessary because the law deals with deeply human questions, and there is more at stake than just ones and zeros. They believe that humans have to contribute to the legal system’s notions of mercy, fairness, empathy, and procedural justice. They also suggest that involving humans in the process helps to inform the technology before disastrous consequences and helps to refine it. Therefore, they emphasize the need for human review of machine judgments, which will lead to accelerated learning in the law. Furthermore, they highlight that the legal market needs to distinguish between the kinds of problems that are a reflection of unaddressed social problems or those that are new technological problems. They stress that the legal market is still collectively responsible for resolving these issues.
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