The hype, the bubble, and the potential: Understanding the AI revolution

Learn why the explosion of AI is sure to be a bumpy – but thrilling – ride.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become the buzzword of the decade, with promises of transforming industries and revolutionizing the way we work. However, amidst the excitement and hype, it is crucial to understand the reality behind the AI revolution.  

In a recent webinar, “Hype, Headlines, and Haters, Legal’s AI Roller Coaster,” Casey Flaherty, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Lexfusion, explored the different perspectives surrounding AI, the potential pitfalls, and the opportunities it presents in the legal world.  

Read on for highlights from the webinar to learn more about why the explosion of AI is sure to be a bumpy – but thrilling – ride. 

The hype cycle and Amara’s Law

The AI revolution follows a familiar pattern known as the hype cycle, Casey said.

Initially, breakthroughs generate excitement and discussions, leading to the testing of new products.  

“I can’t remember the ‘before’ time, the long, long ago when we weren’t talking about AI, and yet it was less than a year ago,” Casey said. “ChatGPT launches November 30 of last year and goes viral. All of a sudden, it’s everywhere.”

However, as the limitations of these products become apparent, disappointment sets in. This cycle is a natural part of technological advancements. 

Amara’s Law, which states that we tend to overestimate the short-term impact of technology and underestimate its long-term effects, complements the hype cycle. It reminds us that while there may be a bubble, dismissing the potential of AI would be a mistake.  

“It is healthy to have a baseline skepticism, but that skepticism should be informed rather than reflexive so that we’re able to separate the signal from the noise or, that is, separate myth from reality,” Casey said. “And I’m telling you that this is absolutely a reality. The consultancies are in the C-suites telling them that AI is a must, not a maybe.”

To understand the potential of AI, we can look back at previous technological advancements. Email, for example, was initially met with skepticism and resistance, he said. However, it eventually became an indispensable tool in our daily lives.  

“I don’t think the genie is going back in the bottle,” Casey said. “When Amazon is spending less on warehouses and more on AI, you know it’s serious.” 

The excitement and the skepticism

There are two main camps when it comes to AI: the “hypists” and the skeptics. The hypists, Casey said, believe that AI will change everything, comparing it to the significance of the PC and the internet. On the other hand, the skeptics raise valid concerns about the limitations and potential risks associated with AI.

Both perspectives are valid, but they are incomplete on their own, Casey said. 

“The thing about what I have labeled ‘Hype, Haters and Headlines,’ when it comes to looking at AI, is that none of them are wrong,” Casey said. “We’ve entered a world where we’ve seen rapid advancement in what AI can actually do, and therefore quite the expansion in our conception of what might be possible soon.” 

Ultimately, Casey said, a mixture of optimism and skepticism may be the healthiest response to the explosion of AI in our world. 

“I think an even stronger argument to be made that we’re in a bit of bubble times,” he said. “Not all arrows point to up, and there are certainly reasons to be skeptical of the revolution, both in terms of speed and efficacy.” 

The reality of AI today

While AI has made significant advancements, many of the tools available today are still problematic and not particularly useful, Casey said.  

“You can find a million articles on mind-blowing AI tools, hundreds or thousands as we all search for the next easy button. But the truth is that most of these tools today are highly problematic and not particularly useful,” he said. “So we can leap into the deep end of using AI, but that does not mean that it’s necessarily going to go well – no matter how much hype there is.” 

The excitement surrounding AI has led to unrealistic expectations and a rush to adopt AI without fully understanding its capabilities and limitations. 

For example, Generative AI projects still suffer from problems like catastrophic forgetting, when the new things it learns overwrite the old things it used to know; and a lack of transparency because the AI can’t explain why it made a particular decision. 

Further, AI is not immune to human biases and stereotypes. This was readily apparent with the resume-sorting algorithm used for a short time at Amazon. What was meant to help cut down on manual processing of resumes resulted in horribly sexist outcomes for female applicants.    

Mistakes have been made, and the noise surrounding AI can be distracting. It is essential to approach AI with a cautious and critical mindset.  

Legal and ethical considerations

The legal profession faces unique challenges with the adoption of AI. Concerns about privacy, insurance coverage, malpractice, labor and employment issues, and regulatory compliance are just a few of the many considerations, Casey said. 

“It’s concerns about privacy, whether or not insurance covers our new activities, whether malpractice insurance covers our own activities. Are we breaking privilege? What about labor and employment? IP? What kind of actions are governments going to take? What new regulations are going to come down at the federal level or at the state level or at the city level, and how are they going to go about enforcing those regulations?”

The legal landscape is evolving, and new regulations and enforcement activities are expected, particularly in the European Union. Lawyers must navigate these complexities and ensure ethical boundaries are respected.

While there are legitimate concerns surrounding AI, it also presents immense opportunities. AI has the potential to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and enhance decision-making. However, it is crucial to strike a balance between relying on AI and maintaining human expertise. AI should be seen as a tool in the toolbox, augmenting human capabilities rather than replacing them.  

Conclusion

The AI revolution is here, and it is important to approach it with a balanced perspective. The hype surrounding AI should not be dismissed, but it should also not overshadow the potential pitfalls and challenges.  

Understanding the limitations and ethical considerations is crucial for successful integration of AI into various industries, including the legal profession. By embracing AI as a tool and leveraging its capabilities, we can navigate the complexities of the AI revolution and harness its potential for positive change. 

Learn more about AI’s potential to transform the legal industry. Watch the full webinar here.

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