This caution follows on the heels of a recent New York case in which a Plaintiff sued an airline for negligence due to injuries allegedly sustained from a serving cart while on an airplane. At least six of the cases submitted by his lawyer that supported the Plaintiff’s position were bogus judicial decisions with bogus quotes and bogus internal citations found though the use of ChatGPT. ChatGPT states that it can interact in a conversational way, making it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests. Unfortunately, when Plaintiff’s counsel asked if a particular bogus case was real, ChatGPT reiterated that it was, and the lawyer did not double check with an official database. When called upon to explain, counsel for the Plaintiff indicated that he had never used ChatGPT before and was unaware of the possibility that its content could be false.
Although on the face of it, a program such as ChatGPT may seem to be a dream come true for self-represented litigants, lawyers and litigants in Alberta must rely exclusively on authoritative sources such as official court websites, commonly referenced commercial publishers, or well-established public services such as CanLII when making references to case law, statutes or commentary in representations to Alberta Courts.
The value in AI is the ability to analyze massive amounts of data and unearth details that are undetectable to the human eye. Yet, as the New York case mentioned above illustrates, without human expertise ensuring the quality and accuracy of that data, AI can do more harm than good. For this reason, any AI-generated court submissions used in the Province of Alberta must be verified through meaningful human control by cross-referencing with reliable legal databases to ensure that the citations and their content hold up to scrutiny.
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