Judges will need to get to grips with AI, says Lord Neuberger


Neuberger: neuroscience will have a role in the law too

Judges will have to learn how to use artificial intelligence (AI), the president of the Supreme Court has said, but there is “little point” in them worrying about the possibility of being replaced by it.

“The take-over of legal work by IT is very interesting to read and think about and it presents very important medium and long-term strategic issues for the legal profession,” said Lord Neuberger.

“However, for the moment at least, I think that there is little point in the judges making plans for the possibility of being replaced by AI.

“We should be concentrating on learning how to be as good at our judicial roles as we can, and that includes making best use of IT and in due course no doubt of AI.”

In a speech to the Royal Society on science and law, Lord Neuberger said the influence of AI on the law was “fascinatingly discussed” by Professor Richard Susskind and his son, Daniel, in their book The Future of the Professions, reviewed by Legal Futures here.

Lord Neuberger said everyone knew that IT was “developing techniques to deal with the more humdrum side of law”, such as disclosure of documents.

He said computer programmes were now “being developed which not only outplay the human world chess champion and outperform human winners of TV quiz shows, but which can apparently outperform IP law experts in predicting the outcome of US Supreme Court patent litigation”.

Lord Neuberger said developments in neuroscience could also “provide vital assistance within 20 years to the making and application of the law”.

He went on: “As studies on the brain develop, no doubt we will start to learn about the way we react to events, to people and to ideas, and how we make decisions.

“So neuroscience will assist a judge not merely with assessing information and evidence which is coming into her brain through her eyes and ears, but also, and rather unsettlingly I suspect, with an insight as to how she processes that information and evidence once it is in her brain.

“Her conscious and unconscious biases and assumptions will be factors which she will have to know about and no doubt which she should allow for.”

Lord Neuberger concluded that law and science could not “afford to be complacent” and each “have to strive” to keep ahead.

“So, here in the UK science and the law should be reinforcing each other – excellence reinforcing and learning from excellence.”

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