Alan McCormack | Senior Associate

Embracing AI in the Workplace: A Cautionary Tale

We take a look at a recent case involving the use of AI by lawyers, and consider whether businesses are really welcoming it within the workplace.

The issue of whether Artificial Intelligence (AI) can and should be used in the workplace is not a new one. For years there has been a growing use of AI within businesses across the world and improvement to the technology in recent times has calmed the voices warning of its disastrous impact. At the same time, we have seen a continuing concern that misinformation will lead to a whole host of practical problems, some of which could have very real consequences for individuals and businesses. Since the launch of Chat GPT, there is perhaps an even greater focus on how businesses can use AI effectively and what issues we should all be aware of.

In a recent case, two New York lawyers who have practiced since the 1990s, were said to have relied upon six non-existent cases and referred to inauthentic case citations whilst appearing in court. The lawyers admitted that they had searched Chat GPT to find the case-law, and the AI software had in fact fabricated the cases. The lawyers now face a hearing on potential sanctions, and indeed likely substantial reputational damage. The events act as a serious warning for those who may be tempted to seek to ease their workload by avoiding the time and expense of extensive research.

At the same time, there is acknowledgement in the legal profession that AI software can be used to improve efficiency and provide clients with a more cost-effective service. There are calls for it to be implemented more widely to assist with the drafting of routine legal documents. Indeed, lawyers may rejoice at the idea of AI being able to draft a settlement agreement within a mere 10 seconds, as has been highlighted by professionals across social medica platforms. Recently, Master of the Rolls, Sir Geoffrey Vos, has delivered a speech in which he confirmed his belief that AI can even be used in the future to make minor judicial decisions.

A recent survey by People Management has found that while over half of employers and almost half of workers voice a desire to embrace AI, the reality is that far fewer have begun adopting the technology. Whilst 66% of employers surveyed said that they intend to allow its workforce to use AI tools, only 15% of workers said that they used any AI technology in their roles. It is somewhat unsurprising that only 27% of employers interviewed actually had any training or measures in place to facilitate the use of AI in the workplace. The survey suggests that whilst the desire to embrace AI technology is growing, its implementation in the workplace remains low. If the story above is anything to go by, perhaps we can understand why.

Consensus appears to be building that AI can be used as a positive tool for businesses, but we should all equally be live to the temptation to rely too readily on the information that it offers.

Alan McCormack

Alan McCormack

Employment Law Team

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