The Meta Connect 2023 conference, which held on the 27th of September, was as anticipated – a flurry of grand announcements, technological innovations, and of course, Mark Zuckerberg’s usual keynote address. As a former lawyer who has transitioned into the realm of legal tech, I found the conference to be a goldmine of insights, especially for the legal community. Here, I aim to unravel the highlights of the keynote and share my own interpretation and predictions.
Arguably the most talked-about revelation was the launch of “Meta AI”, positioning itself as a formidable rival to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. As Zuckerberg emphasized, AI stands as the nexus of Meta’s overarching vision. For the uninitiated, the sheer capability of these chat systems might appear almost magical. They can answer a plethora of queries, generate content, and simulate a human-like conversation. Lawyers are already using these tools to draft social media content, conduct legal research and draft documents. But are these tools all built the same?
A unique distinction that “Meta AI” boasts, and one that caught my professional eye, is its integration with Microsoft Bing. This nexus means that the AI can pull in real-time data, sidestepping the “knowledge cut-off” issue that has been a notable limitation with ChatGPT since September 2021. For lawyers, this is a ground breaking development. Imagine working on a case and needing the latest jurisprudence or a recent amendment in legislation; Meta AI promises this information in real-time, making legal research faster, comprehensive, and, dare I say, less tedious.
Zuckerberg’s articulation of Meta AI as a “chat bot with personality” certainly raises eyebrows. In a profession where the human touch, the ability to empathize, persuade, and contextualize is paramount, can an AI with ‘personality’ replace human lawyers? My bet is on the negative. While these sophisticated tools can be instrumental in mundane tasks or quick information gathering, the intricacies of legal reasoning, application of experience, and the profound understanding of human emotions are realms that technology is yet to convincingly breach. These will remain pivotal to many areas of legal practice.
For young lawyers apprehensive about AI intruding into the job market, take heart. While AI might serve as a personal assistant, easing research and automating certain tasks, the core of our profession remains inherently human. Think of these AIs as advanced calculators; while they might handle complex equations effortlessly, they can’t replace the mathematician’s intuition or creativity.
Amid the buzz around AI, Zuckerberg’s dream of the ‘metaverse’ seems to be getting a bit blurred. Despite his assurances, the palpable investor unrest and evident shifts in tech priorities suggest that the dream of a fully immersive virtual world might not be imminent. For law firms planning to get their virtual office opened in the digital world, I’d suggest hanging fire for now. While the concept is enthralling and promises a revolutionary shift in how we conduct business, the practical manifestation of the metaverse, especially in professions rooted deeply in real-world interactions, remains to be seen.
The Meta Connect 2023 conference was a testimony to the rapid strides technology is making, and its ever-growing influence in every sphere, including law. While “Meta AI” and its real-time capabilities promise to be an interesting advancement for legal practitioners, it’s crucial to approach it as a tool, an aid, rather than a replacement. The metaverse, though an enticing prospect, seems to be on the horizon rather than at our doorstep.
My message to law firms and lawyers remains as follows: