Technology Judges given green light to use ChatGPT in legal...

Judges given green light to use ChatGPT in legal rulings

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Judges will be able to use ChatGPT to help write legal rulings despite warnings that artificial intelligence (AI) can invent cases that never happened.

The Judicial Office has issued official guidance to thousands of judges in England and Wales saying AI can be useful for summarising large amounts of text or in administrative tasks.

However, it said that chatbots are a “poor way of conducting research” and are prone to making up fictitious cases or legal texts.

The guidance also warned that the rise of bots such as ChatGPT could end up being widely used by members of the public when bringing legal cases and that deepfake technology could be used to create fake evidence.

Sir Geoffrey Vos, the Master of the Rolls, said that AI “offers significant opportunities in developing a better, quicker and more cost-effective digital justice system”.

He said: “Technology will only move forwards and the judiciary has to understand what is going on. Judges, like everybody else, need to be acutely aware that AI can give inaccurate responses as well as accurate ones.”

Earlier this year, a senior judge, Lord Justice Birss, described ChatGPT as “jolly useful”, saying he had used the chatbot to summarise an area of law he was familiar with, and copy and pasted it into a court ruling.

He said on Monday that he had used ChatGPT as a test and that it had been used within the guidance because he had not entered any secret or confidential information into it.

Chatbots have landed lawyers in the US into difficulties after they used ChatGPT to write a court filing that contained multiple fictional cases invented by the bot.

 AI language models write sentences by predicting a series of words based on huge quantities of text that they have been “trained” on, meaning they are prone to inventing facts.

The legal guidance says that “the current public AI chatbots do not produce convincing analysis or reasoning” and that “judicial office holders are personally responsible for material which is produced in their name”.

Judges have also been warned not to put private information into a chatbot, warning that it could end up in the public domain.

The guidance also states that chatbots are prone to stating US law when asked legal questions. It says American spelling and references to US cases are an indication that something is likely to have been generated by AI.

Sir Geoffrey said that lawyers were potentially subject to perjury and criminal sanctions if submissions penned by a chatbot produced false evidence. “Nothing changes just because they may have got what they said falsely from an AI chatbot instead of out of their own head,” he said.

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