NYS Bar Association forms task force to scrutinize artificial intelligence

July 18, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) has formed a task force to address the growing concerns and potential challenges surrounding artificial intelligence (AI). The group aims to investigate the advantages and potential dangers of AI, crafting regulatory recommendations for the fast-paced and powerful technology sector.

The decision to establish the task force comes in response to recent high-profile cases of AI misuse. Professionals across various fields, including law, have relied on generative AI, such as ChatGPT, for research purposes, only to discover later that the output was fabricated. The task force is also exploring AI’s capacity to improve daily business operations.

Vivian Wesson, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church, will lead the task force.

Wesson’s qualifications to lead a task force on AI include her extensive legal expertise and experience, particularly in areas like intellectual property and cybersecurity, which are closely related to AI technology.

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Additionally, Wesson’s commitment to corporate governance and risk management aligns with the goals of an AI task force. Her dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion, along with her passion for social justice, are crucial for developing policies that consider AI’s potential diverse impacts. She also has a broad legal background and strong leadership skills make her capable of effectively leading a diverse team.

Public officials and technology experts have raised concerns about AI’s current usage and have suggested limits on its implementation. Some have even called for a temporary halt to its utilization until regulatory measures can be put in place.

“AI’s rapid growth and sophistication are having and will continue to have a monumental impact on all professions – including lawyers, law firms, and their clients,” said Richard Lewis, President of the NYSBA. “The New York State Bar Association is addressing how AI may best assist those who interact with the legal system while evaluating how tightly it needs to be regulated and what protections should be put in place to guard against misuse and abuse.”

AI presents potential benefits, such as providing clients with faster access to information and assisting lawyers in generating legal trend data. However, the technology also carries risks, including bias in AI facial recognition software and chatbots. AI is also poised to dramatically influence copyright, patent, and privacy laws, although the precise impact remains uncertain.

Industry opinion on AI regulation varies. Some groups support regulation to prevent misuse, while others worry that strict controls might stifle innovation. Others argue that the technology is still too new to fully assess its potential danger.

The formation of the task force comes at a time when AI is under increasing scrutiny. Last week, the Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into OpenAI over allegations that the ChatGPT bot manufacturer has put personal data and reputations at risk.

Two New York lawyers, Steven Schwartz and Peter LoDuca from the law firm Levidow, Levidow & Oberman, were fined $5,000 by U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel for including six fictitious case citations in a legal brief.

These citations were unknowingly generated by the artificial intelligence chatbot, ChatGPT. Despite the lawyers claiming that they acted in good faith, the judge found them guilty of “conscious avoidance and false and misleading statements to the court.”


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