Smith: all lawyers will depend on AI A new breed of specialist artificial intelligence (AI) lawyer will emerge within 20 years, but governments should only legislate on the subject once technology companies have had time to develop their own ethical principles, according to Microsoft. In a 120-page thesis on the future of technology, The future computed, artificial intelligence and its role in society, the software giant urged regulators to use existing laws, while anticipating a discrete band of specialist lawyers, themselves supported by the technology.

“By 2038 it’s safe to assume that… not only will there be AI lawyers practising AI law, but these lawyers, and virtually all others, will rely on AI itself to assist them with their practice,” the company’s president and former general counsel, Brad Smith, co-wrote with a colleague in the foreword. However, current laws on privacy, data protection, competition, and negligence were sufficient to regulate many of the issues thrown up by AI, the company argued.

It called for any new AI-specific laws to strike a balance between addressing challenges and enabling innovation and its potential “to improve people’s lives”. Meanwhile, stakeholders in the technology should be given “sufficient time to identify and articulate key principles guiding the development of responsible and trustworthy AI, and to implement these principles by adopting and refining best practices”.

In the short term, Microsoft identified data collection as the focus for regulators. The development of AI required the use of data, often as much as possible.

Data also had a bearing on competition and governments should be even-handed in enabling access to public data, while ensuring that no one company had a monopoly on private data. They should also be mindful of whether “sophisticated algorithms will enable rivals to effectively ‘fix’ prices”. Read more from…

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