AI (Artificial Intelligence)


Artificial intelligence, or “AI”, has captured public imagination in popular culture through its depiction as alternatively loving or evil. AI is already all around us - when our streaming service recommends a new film to us or perhaps when our smart phone directs us away from traffic on the way home.

In this context of rapidly developing technology, companies need to act now to recognise and embrace the opportunities offered by AI, implement AI across their operations, and embed AI in their business models. It will mean the difference between vision and reaction.

At its simplest, AI is software programmed to mimic human cognitive functions such as speech recognition and problem solving. In the same way that a person learns from their experiences over time, AI uses data analysis to gather insights and improve the performance of tasks in the future. This gets to the point of “deep learning”, where software can train itself, given large enough data sets.

With this understanding in mind, the success of AI rests of three core concepts:

  1. brute processing power;
  2. large amounts of data to draw on; and
  3. smart, efficient algorithms.

Importance / relevance of AI

The irresistible inference here is that AI will dramatically shift the fabric of society as we know it. In the not too distant future, it will revolutionise aspects of our lives such as the way we work, treat illness, travel, and interact with each other. At this stage, the sheer scale of the AI revolution cannot be overestimated.

A tangible example comes in the form of autonomous vehicles. It is not too much of a stretch to imagine being whisked off to work in a driverless car that independently senses and navigates its environment, all for the price of a small monthly subscription fee. US consultancies predict that within 15 years, 95% of US passenger miles will be driven by subscription based autonomous cars, making up 60% of vehicles on the roads.

The Legal Considerations

The regulatory framework around AI is burgeoning but is, nonetheless, still in its infancy. Just over six months ago the Australian Government published its preparatory guidelines for trials of autonomous vehicles on public roads in the country, seen as a first regulatory step in the looming era of driverless cars and other autonomous vehicles.

However one of the major legal challenges posed by the future of artificial intelligence relates to causation and fault. As more and more AI powered devices enter our society and are increasingly making decisions informed by autonomous machine learning, lawyers will be faced with many tricky questions about liability and insurance for accidents and defects in circumstances that cannot be traced back to a human error.

Companies may also be faced with copyright issues as increasingly self-driven devices and systems independently develop similar results and products.