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AI Safety Summit – What the Bar needs to know about Bletchley Park

The UK held its first landmark artificial intelligence summit last week, as political leaders’ concerns around the technology’s rapid advancement grew exponentially. AI’s fast-track integration into the working world has changed landscapes, with the Bar being no exception – but what did the outcome of the UK’s summit mean for its barristers and chambers staff? 

The two-day summit hosted government officials and companies from around the world at Bletchley Park, including AI heavyweights, USA and China.  

Prime Minster, Rishi Sunak, used this opportunity to make a statement in front of the world on the UK’s role in the conversation surrounding AI and how the technology should be regulated.  

Central to the goals of the summit were achieving some level of coordination regarding agreement on ethical and responsible developments of AI models, alongside focus on “frontier AI”, mainly large language models (LLMs) such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT.  

Misuse and loss of control emerged as the two main categories of discussion, with the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, claiming that AI models are currently one of the biggest threats to humanity. 

“I mean, for the first time, we have a situation where there’s something that is going to be far smarter than the smartest human,” admitted Musk. 

“So, you know, we’re not stronger or faster than other creatures, but we are more intelligent. And here we are, for the first time really in human history, with something that’s going to be far more intelligent than us.” 

Elon Musk

(AI Summit, 2023)

Why should Barristers and their Chambers be concerned? 

From a barrister’s perspective, the rapid advancement and integration of AI Language Models to the Bar poses significant safety concerns. Data privacy and security risks are the most prevalent, with AI access to sensitive and confidential legal information increasing the chance of data breaches. 

Barristers’ use of AI also presents ethical and regulatory issues, including the threat of algorithmic bias and the lack of reliability and accountability of AI decision making producing unjust legal decisions.  

Overarchingly, this can lead to the potential for barristers becoming over-reliant on the technology available to them, resulting in a decrease of traditional legal skill. It is imperative that barristers are able to strike a balance between utilising AI’s capabilities and maintaining their core competencies as legal professionals.  

What benefits does AI bring to the workplace? 

Not all discussions held at Bletchley Park posed threats to humanity and its workforce, as the benefits of AI in the workplace shone through in glimmers. UK technology Secretary, Michelle Donelan, attempted to balance risks and opportunities to world leaders, claiming a new perspective was needed on AI workplace integration. 

“I really do think we need to change the conversation when it comes to jobs,” noted Donelan. 

“What AI has the potential to do is actually reduce some of those tedious administrative part of our jobs, which is particularly impactful for doctors, our police force, our teachers.” 

Like any major advancement in technology, risks and rewards are heavily considered throughout the development process, with AI and LLMs being no different. 

At the Bar, AI’s integration and more importantly, regulation, will grant barristers a growing pool of work, with the software’s involvement in the practice creating opportunities as and when regulation is introduced.  

On top of this, the legal issues that AI has the potential to cause will see an increase in work in areas such as Intellectual Property and Privacy law. The nature of LLMs in scouring the internet for resources puts users at risk of stealing intellectual property of another, while users who choose to input personal data will have caused a data breach within a business.  

 It seems inevitable that the technology will only be further integrated at the Bar as time passes, and therefore, barristers and legal professionals collectively should strive to stay up to date with progress made in the area. 

AI is no longer a peripheral tool but an integral part of legal practice, streamlining research, document analysis and drafting, and even content creation for marketing purposes. Barristers and chambers staff must embrace AI and learn to harness its capabilities effectively. Staying ahead of the curve and adapting to these changes in the legal landscape will be crucial in their ability to provide efficient and accurate legal services. The ability to navigate and leverage AI technology is not just an option; it is a necessity for the modern barrister who seeks to thrive in the legal field. 

At Briefed, we are hosting our third live workshop on AI and ChatGPT, informing barristers and chambers staff on the implications of ChatGPT and the role of the barristers in relation to the technology. 

Join our Live Workshop:AI & ChatGPT: Opportunities & Risks for Barristers and Chambers Tuesday 28th November @ 5pm

   Register Now    

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