In recent years, the world has witnessed impressive advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and the involvement of AI in our day-to-day lives has become more evident and remarkable. The number of people using chatbots and virtual personal assistants such as Siri and Alexa is expanding expeditiously.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
The term Artificial Intelligence (AI) was coined in 1956 by an American computer scientist, John McCarthy who is also known as the father of AI. In simple terms, AI is the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior. The objective behind the development of AI is the demand and need for automation. The hum-drum monotonous tasks performed by human workforce across the world can be easily automated by utilizing AI and this further aids human beings to perform better in handling critical and complex tasks and situations.
In India AI is still in its early stages, and the Indian legal industry being labor intensive in nature, has not fully embraced technological changes. The nature of the legal profession in India is such that the entire process is done manually and some of the older generation lawyers are still hesitant towards the idea of AI in law. However, the tech-savvy lawyers are acknowledging AI prowess and embracing it with enthusiasm. It is believed that in the coming times, with the merger of AI and law India will witness immense growth.
Uses of AI in Legal Profession:
Technology has unshackled the routine and monotonous task of sifting through documents and looking for relevant passages. There are diverse ways in which AI is being utilized in the legal industry. Some of the ways in which AI is being used and proving to be beneficial for the lawyers and law firms respectively are discussed below:
Legal research is an activity that is time consuming and a lot of legal practitioners face the challenge of not having enough time. This challenge is addressed with the help of AI software and other technologies which has made legal research not only faster and easier but more accurate than ever.
During the process of due-diligence legal practitioners are required to review hundreds or thousands of documents that have not been organized and stored in any number of file formats. Organizing and converting all of the documents is a time consuming process. However, with the help of AI solutions, the same is done at a much faster speed with more accuracy. Studies have shown that AI systems and machine-learning technology do the work of reviewing documents accurately in half the time.
AI software automates the tasks of legal practitioners such as drafting standard and routine contracts, petitions etc.
AI software furnishes judgments and precedent law to be used by legal practitioners in their present cases. The device detects relevant patterns to find correlations in new inputs. By this mechanism correlation between the instant case and similar precedents can be established.
Artificial intelligence legal software helps in predicting the probable outcome of a pending case with remarkable accuracy. It has proven to be extremely useful in rapidly identifying patterns in cases that lead to certain outcomes. Research have shown that computers can do a better job than legal academicians at predicting Supreme Court decisions, even with less information.
AI legal software helps in preparing the invoices for the legal practitioners as per the work done by them. It makes accurate adjustments of the work done by the legal practitioner.
Legal Personality of AI:
As of now, no law in force recognizes AI to be a legal person and there are no AI related laws or legislations. However, with incidents such as the fatal accident caused by Uber’s self-driving vehicle thereby killing a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona and Sophia, a robot being awarded citizenship by Saudi Arabia it has become vital to address the legal identity of AI.
India has not proceeded as far as giving citizenship rights to a robot but what happens if it does? Further, who would be responsible for their actions? If she/he commits a crime, what punishment would be awarded? Such challenges will be addressed only if the government makes a pre-emptive move and address the legal identity of an AI.
Further, AI is wholly based on data generated and is gathered from various sources and hence a biased data set could lead to a biased decision by the system.
There is no dispute to the fact that AI is here to stay for the long haul and we still do not know all the perils connected with it and hence it is incumbent to have laws to control the actions of AI as well as for the accountability of errors. With the dearth of clear provisions in law accountability may take a hit.
Will AI replace lawyers?
AI is growing multifold, and there is no shortage of dread when it comes to the impact of AI on employment.
But research shows that AI and automation are more likely to support than displace lawyers and will engage technology more into the legal service delivery. Although an AI has been helpful in predicting what documents will be relevant to a case, yet tasks such as advising clients, negotiating and appearing and arguing in courts, seem to be impossible to be performed by an AI at least in the near future.
However, traditional law firms and lawyers must understand the potential of AI and embrace it so that they could focus on more complex and mission critical work for their clients. Those who adopt and leverage it will provide better and more cost-effective legal services to their client.
A research made by McKinsey Global Institute found that that while nearly half of all the tasks could be automated with current technology, only 5 percent of jobs could be entirely automated. McKinsey further estimated that 23 percent of a lawyer’s job can be automated.
Legal experts predict that technology will transform multiple aspects of legal work over the next decade or two rather than the next year or two. Legal practitioners will spend their time on work on the top rungs of the legal task ladder such as arguing in courts, negotiation etc. and the other more routine legal services will be performed by non-lawyers or by technology.
Should we tax an AI or a Robot that take our jobs?
The world’s richest man and the co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates and various scholars around the world are lobbying for what is known as the ‘robot tax’. According to Gates, a tax on robots could balance government’s income as jobs are lost to automation. The levy is suggested to slow down the pace of change and provide money for Government to increase job opportunities in other sectors.
What is robot tax?
It is an idea that employers who replace employees with robots be required to pay a tax in order to temporarily slow down the spread of automation while helping to mitigate the effect of job loss. In other words, robot tax is the tax levied on the use of robots for industrial automation. It is intended to smoothen the transition process by affording ample time to human beings to find alternative ways of earning income.
There are a couple of ways a robot tax could work:
1. The automated employees that replace humans could be taxed at the same rate as the human employee would pay income tax.
2. The company could be required to pay the tax for each robot based on the displaced employee’s salary.
3. The company could be taxed for using a robot, without any connection to employees’.
In either way, the tax collected would be to used to assist the displaced workers through initiatives such as restraining and a universal basic income.
South Korea is the first country in the world to impose a tax on Robots:
Studies have shown that out of every 10,000 Korean employees in manufacturing there are 631 robots, which is eight times the international average. They are installed particularly in the electronics and automotive industries, accounting for an important part of South Korea’s economy.
In August 2017, South Korea became the first country in the world to impose a tax on robots amidst fears that machines that are now more capable, adaptable, even cheaper and faster to train will replace human workers in the near future, and could lead to mass unemployment in the country. The model that South Korea government has adopted is to limit the tax incentives they give to companies who are investing in automated machines. It is not a direct tax on robots.
Position in India:
In India taxation of income is governed by the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (ITA). As per the ITA, for the purpose of taxing an entity or an individual under the Act it needs to quality as a ‘person’. As of now, no law in India recognizes AI entities or robots to be ‘persons’. But there is a possibility that in the coming years, AI may be granted the status of a ‘person’ under the law because unlike corporations, AI is indeed autonomous because after a point, the programmers of AI do not control it and all activities are performed on its own intelligence.
Edited by Ankita Jha
1. Can artificial intelligence be given legal rights and duties?
2. The robot that takes your job should pay taxes, says Bill Gates.
3. Steve Lohr, A.I. Is Doing Legal Work. But it Won’t Replace Lawyers, Yet.
4. Artificial Intelligence Changing Legal Industry
5. Artificial Intelligence Law, By Pawan Duggal.