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AI + Legal Education: a new 'Diamond Age' or a threat to rights and values?

Rob Chalmers, Senior Lecturer, Flinders University


This presentation is inspired by Neal Stephenson’s 1995 speculative fiction ‘The Diamond Age’. That novel included a portrayal of a sophisticated and responsive interactive tutor (Young Lady's Illustrated Primer) which combined an AI system with a human actor. The tutor was initially developed for a privileged upper class, then illicitly made more broadly available.

What was fiction is now fact, with traces of these ideas visible in current uses of AI in education. These include the use of AI to “reskin” full motion video to fit the avatars of different people (or even render video from text only inputs). Generative AI tools allow the creation of seemingly naturalistic responses from artificial tutors, and can be readily reprogrammed to play different roles in different fields with simple narrative prompts (akin to the suggestions that might be made to actors workshopping a play). AI is now integrated into commonplace office, productivity and search software, including law specific search and productivity tools.

What are the implications for educational access and quality, academic integrity, and values? What about the rights of those creating educational tools and materials – including rights to the future use of their likenesses and moral as well as economic rights in their creations (imagine an educational version of the dispute between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers)? What are the consequences for professional standards and practices?  Finally, might we actually find effective responses to some of these challenges in older approaches to education and training?

[This presentation will draw on recent examples of approaches in the use of AI in other educational fields; examples of use in legal practice; and on recent and pending presentations and panel discussions of which the presenter has been a part (for the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association and for a European conference on AI)]