(Repost) Bloomberg -- Chief Justice Roberts Says AI Will Transform How the Courts Work

(Credit: Transcript by OpenAI Whisper)

Chief Justice Roberts says AI will transform how the courts work. Artificial intelligence will change how U.S. courts do business, though human judges will be around for a while yet, Chief Justice John Roberts said. AI tools will change how judges do their jobs and how they understand the role that AI plays in the cases that come before them, Roberts said in his end-of-year report. The remarks are a response to this year's AI frenzy that swept the nation and financial markets, which has already started to alter how lawyers and judges approach their work. Roberts stopped short of doomsday warnings about the automation of human jobs. Machines cannot fully replace key actors in court, he wrote. Nuance matters, much can turn on a shaking hand, a quivering voice, a change of inflection, a beat of sweat, a moment's hesitation, a fleeting break in eye contact. And most people still trust humans more than machines to perceive and draw the right inferences from these clues. There's been a string of high-profile examples of AI-generated legal briefs citing fake cases and misstating facts. Generative AI, which creates texts and images based on prompts, often produces errors as part of its human-like responses. Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former lawyer, unintentionally included phony cases generated by AI in a brief last month, according to court papers made public Friday. I predict that human judges will be around for a while, said Roberts, who joined the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005. Yet legal research may soon be unimaginable without AI, he said. AI obviously has great potential to dramatically increase access to key information for lawyers and non-lawyers alike, he wrote. But just as obviously it risks invading privacy interests and dehumanizing the law. Courts have historically struggled to adapt to new technology. Roberts himself is known for drafting his opinions by hand, rather than on a computer. Read more, Supreme Court Adopts Code of Conduct Amid Ethics Revelations. The Chief Justice's year-end report on the federal judiciary didn't mention the swirl of controversy that engulfed the Supreme Court this year, prompting it to create a code of ethics for the first time. Scandals included Justice Clarence Thomas' failure to disclose decades of gifts and trips from billionaire benefactors.

Key Takeaways from the Article:

  1. AI's Impact on Courts: Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged that artificial intelligence will significantly change the operations of U.S. courts, influencing how judges perform their duties and understand AI's role in legal cases.

  2. Human Judges Remain Essential: Despite the advancements in AI, Roberts emphasized that human judges are irreplaceable in the judicial system. He highlighted the importance of human elements like nuance, physical expressions, and emotional cues, which machines cannot fully comprehend or interpret.

  3. Caution Against Over-Reliance on AI: Roberts pointed out the limitations and risks of AI, such as generating errors, including fake cases or misstating facts in legal briefs. He referenced a recent incident where Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former lawyer, unintentionally used phony cases from AI in a legal brief.

  4. AI in Legal Research: The Chief Justice predicted that AI would become indispensable in legal research, enhancing access to critical information for both lawyers and non-lawyers. However, he warned of potential risks like privacy invasion and the dehumanization of law.

  5. Courts' Technological Adaptation: The article notes that courts have historically faced challenges in adapting to new technologies. It also mentions Roberts’ traditional approach to drafting opinions by hand.

  6. Ethical Considerations and Court Conduct: The article concludes by referencing the Supreme Court's adoption of a code of ethics in response to recent controversies, including ethical issues surrounding Justice Clarence Thomas.

Overall, the article highlights Chief Justice Roberts' perspective on the evolving role of AI in the judicial system, balancing its potential benefits with caution about its limitations and the irreplaceable value of human judgment.

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