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ChatGPT and the Law: The Importance of a Human Touch

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In recent years, the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI), like ChatGPT, has sparked several questions surrounding its potential economic benefit and ethical implications. While ChatGPT and other AI chatbots could potentially be valuable resources to legal practitioners, the limitations of AI chatbots open the door to significant liability.

What is ChatGPT and How Does it Work?

Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer, or ChatGPT, is an AI Chatbot created by the AI research company Open AI. ChatGPT was designed to identify text patterns in a manner that allows it to mimic human speech when generating responses to inquiries. Specifically, by using a large amount of static data and computing techniques, ChatGPT can sound humanlike when answering questions or generating written content like articles or social media posts.

Consider Intent

ChatGPT is not an encyclopedia, despite its seemingly endless wealth of knowledge. It does not generate facts but humanlike responses, allowing it to sound more knowledgeable than it is. Its creator, Open AI, even cautions users that the program sometimes writes “plausible sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers.”

It is because of this that a New York lawyer is facing a sanctions hearing on June 8 after submitting a brief in federal court containing citations to at least six non-existent cases. Apparently unaware that ChatGPT could generate false content, the attorney used the program to generate case law to support a client’s claim without independently verifying the authority cited.

The attorney failed to realize that although ChatGPT may write like a person, it is not one.

What Does This Mean for the Legal Field?

The answer, as always, is it depends.

ChatGPT and other AI chatbots are not inherently problematic. When used properly, they can be a starting point for legal research or generate templates or checklists for contracts and pleadings.

However, when it comes to reliable legal work, both on and off the page—in the short-term at least—ChatGPT cannot replace lawyers. When it comes to professional ethics, privacy, and nuance, lawyers provide a much-needed human touch.

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