Quick Interview: Lord Tim Clement-Jones, Chair of UK AI Select Committee

Along with other countries the UK is exploring the impact of AI on the social, legal and economic fabric of the nation. As part of this pattern of trying to understand AI, including the legal AI sector, the Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence was appointed by the UK’s House of Lords on 29 June 2017 to figure out what it all means.

It is also going to consider when it reports back on whether there needs to be any policy changes within Government and if new regulation is required. In which case, whatever it decides could be rather important.

Artificial Lawyer caught up with the very busy Chairman of the Committee, Lord Tim Clement-Jones, who had a few minutes to tell readers about what is happening. Incidentally, he is also a partner at the global law firm, DLA Piper, which uses legal AI systems, and which therefore perhaps makes his views on AI doubly interesting.

How far are you with the AI Select Committee and what do you hope to achieve?

We   have   received   207   pieces   of   written   evidence   and   we   have   now   started on   our   oral   evidence   taking,   ranging   from   the   meaning   and   prospects   for   AI  to   the   legal   and   ethical   issues   involved.

Do you think there needs to be regulation of AI? If so, why?

That   is   exactly   the   kind   of   question   my   Select   Committee   will   need   to resolve   when   we   reach   the   point   of   coming   to   conclusions   and   making recommendations   at   the   end   of   our   enquiry.   It   will   of   course   partly   depend on   the   effectiveness   of   voluntary   action   and   what   we   conclude   the   risks   of unregulated   AI   are.

When it comes to ‘legal   AI’ what do you see as the greatest benefits to law firms?

Making   practice   more   fulfilling   for   the   younger   lawyers   by   letting   AI   get   on with   routine   work   such   as   due  diligence   and   allowing   them   to   get   involved in   the   negotiations   and   contract   drafting.

How has DLA and its clients benefited from using AI systems?

We   are  still   only   in   the   foothills   of   AI   use.   AI  helps   us   deliver   a   quality   service, but   even   in terms   of   “weak”   AI   there   is   much   more   to   come,  particularly   for   client   relationship   and   project   management.

And, in terms of future development of legal AI, you’ve mentioned before ethical issues, what do you see as the potential   challenges as AI becomes more complex?

I   think   ethics   will   be   a   big   issue   for   all   adopters   of   AI   in   terms  of   the decisions   that   are   made   which   involve   substitution   of   AI   for   human   labour. How   far?   How fast?   To   what   degree?   But   also   professionals   using   AI   will need   to   ensure   that   nevertheless   they   remain   fully   accountable   for   the delivery   of   their   services.

And that’s all folks. 

The Committee will report to the House by 31 March 2018. Most written evidence has already been submitted, but there is however still a chance to provide a late written submission if you wish, which Artificial Lawyer did this week. The link to make a submission is here.

The complete list of members of the AI Select Committee are:

(And yep, you read that right, the Bishop of Oxford is going to be considering the implications of AI, so we’ll get an ecclesiastical perspective as well.)