Will I lose my job to artificial intelligence (AI)?

What differentiates AI and me is that AI lacks the human judgement needed to understand what a client wants

Alena Makarevich | Corporate and Commercial Associate

By Alena Makarevich, Corporate and Commercial Associate

OpenAI’s Chat GPT has been a hot topic over the past few months, with the race to develop AI-powered tools like Chat GPT and other AI technologies rapidly accelerating.

As a commercial solicitor, I specialise in the provision of commercial advice and the drafting of commercial contracts. With Chat GPT designed to produce instant and intelligent real-language responses and other AI technology able to generate contract templates within seconds, should I be worried that AI will replace me in my job any time soon?

Advancement of AI technologies

Basic forms of AI have existed for quite some time. A remote-controlled mouse that was able to find its way out of a labyrinth and could remember its course was developed as early as the 1950s. The talk about artificial intelligence replacing service professions like lawyers is therefore not new.

We have already seen how technology has replaced many professions, from factory workers to knocker-uppers (this one’s my favourite – a person whose job was to wake you up in the morning before alarm clocks were invented).

In the last decade the abilities of artificial intelligence have improved dramatically, particularly in the area of image and language recognition. You are now able to enter into an intelligent dialogue with Chat GPT and to get coherent answers without the need to scroll through tons of data. This puts many jobs involving text and content creation and data analytics at risk.

A recent report from Goldman Sachs estimates around 18% of work globally could be automated by AI. Ironically, one of the biggest threats posed by the development of artificial intelligence is to the tech industry as we know it today. AI technologies are able to analyse vast amounts of data with relative accuracy and produce a code much faster than human computer programmers. Many journalists may also be feeling threatened by the future role of AI, with computers being able to craft a compelling news story based on a series of facts.

How could AI impact the legal sector?

Back to the legal profession, what I do as a solicitor (in basic terms) is use the knowledge and resources that I have, analyse them in the context of a given problem, and advise the client based on that analysis.

This, broadly, is the type of function that AI is set to replace, and it will do that quicker than I can blink.

Since its launch in November 2022, Chat GPT has been used to write cover letters, create malware, help students cheat on their homework and even chat with matches on dating sites. Chat GPT can provide you with a basic contract template and generate responses to legal questions.

It could even write this article for me and perhaps save me hours of research on this subject. In fact, having done my research I decided to ask Chat GPT to do exactly that out of curiosity —and lo and behold, it produced a version of the article that mirrors the key points I’m raising here!

But should I start thinking about requalifying into something like a robotics engineer (one of the jobs set to be in demand in the world shaped by automation and technology)? To answer this question it helps to understand how AI works. In summary, AI looks for patterns in the available data it has been trained on and uses that knowledge to decide its response.

What AI cannot do yet is think for itself and be creative.

While Chat GPT and its rival Bard by Google can produce a poem that sounds like something I wrote for school homework, such AI technologies have been found to generate misinformation, incorrectly answer coding problems, and produce errors in basic math.

Both Google and OpenAI admit flaws in their programmes, with much of Chat GPT’s knowledge being out of date (at the time of writing its knowledge ends in 2021). It also relies on the user phrasing their questions in the right way, with no room for interpretation or nuance that would be picked up by a human expert.

Chat GPT vs. Primas Law

Most importantly, what differentiates AI and me is that AI lacks the human judgement needed to understand what a client wants.

Information that a client gives you is not always enough to produce the result which gives the best outcome for the client. This is where human experience, coupled with a keen understanding of the client’s needs and an ability to read between the lines comes in handy.

At Primas, we work closely with our clients to help them understand the best commercial solution by guiding them rather than regurgitating the same answer for each client. AI cannot yet replace human interactions and creative solutions. Afterall, creativity and originality is the reason I’m posting my version of the article and not Chat GPT’s.

It’s also important to note that while Chat GPT can give you an answer to a legal question, it does not provide legal advice and for a good reason.

While the available technology is impressive, the type of AI that can solve novel problems (in the way a human can) doesn’t exist yet. However, with companies and governments investing heavily and Elon Musk set to spearhead the development of his own powerful AI chatbot, not only is the technology behind AI becoming increasingly advanced and accessible, but the question of creating “artificial general intelligence” (capable of understanding and learning any intellectual task that a human can) appears to be no longer one of “if”, but “when”.

At the moment though, AI has far more limitations than human intelligence and is only as good as the code that creates it, the information it is able to extract and the person who uses it.

The legal profession is safe (for now)

So it looks like the legal profession is safe (at least for now). Away from the doom and gloom, AI is undoubtedly a great productivity enhancing tool that has a potential to make my job easier. Like the role of a factory worker that has adapted overtime with advancements in automation and technology, many jobs – including mine – will evolve to incorporate AI technologies.

AI-powered contracting software is already widely in use for contract drafting, management and analysis. As one law professor pointed out, by utilising these tools: “lawyers will shift their focus from routine activities to much more high value work involved in shaping strategies and navigating complex legal problems”. It’s the ability to build client relationships, understand the client’s needs and tailor our advice and the work we produce to those needs where a commercial solicitor will always be able to add value.

I’m interested to see how AI is affecting other professions. Do you see it as a threat or an opportunity?

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