Tag Archives: generative AI

Microsoft CoPilot for Lawyers

Microsoft has started integrating generative AI in its products and services. In our previous article, we talked about SharePoint Syntex. In this article, we have a look at its much talked about CoPilot. What is CoPilot? What can it do? What are the benefits of CoPilot? And what are the benefits of Microsoft CoPilot for lawyers? Finally, we look at the availability of CoPilot.

What is CoPilot?

Microsoft Copilot is a new AI assistant that can help you with various tasks across Windows, Microsoft 365, Bing, and Edge. It is an AI-powered productivity tool that uses large language models (LLMs) and integrates your data, e.g., with the Microsoft Graph and Microsoft 365 apps and services. It can answer your questions, generate content, suggest actions, and more. Copilot provides real-time intelligent assistance, enabling users to enhance their creativity, productivity, and skills.

CoPilot is not just one product or service, and that has led to some confusion. Microsoft has made different versions of CoPilot available, depending on your needs and preferences. At present, there are three versions that are most relevant.

First, there is CoPilot in Windows. This is the basic version of CoPilot that comes with Windows 11. You can launch it by clicking on its icon on the taskbar or by pressing the Windows logo key + C. CoPilot in Windows can help you with common tasks such as searching the web, organizing your windows, and adjusting your PC settings. You can also ask CoPilot questions and get relevant answers fast. For example, you can ask “What is the capital of South Africa?” and CoPilot will show you the answer along with a map and a link to learn more. CoPilot in Windows is being rolled out gradually and will be available in both Windows 10 and 11.

Next, there is the Microsoft 365 CoPilot. Let me first point out that there is some inconsistency in the use of the name. If you have Microsoft 365, a version of CoPilot will work alongside popular Microsoft 365 apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, and more. But the name is typically used more specifically for the CoPilot version for enterprise users of Microsoft 365. This is the premium version of CoPilot that requires a license for Microsoft 365 E3 or Microsoft 365 E5, and a separate license for Microsoft 365 CoPilot. (Read: you will have to pay extra). You can use the Microsoft 365 CoPilot setup guide in the Microsoft 365 admin centre to assign the required licenses to users. You can use Microsoft 365 CoPilot, e.g., to generate summaries of long documents in Word, create charts from data in Excel, design slides from keywords in PowerPoint, schedule meetings from emails in Outlook, and collaborate with teammates from chats in Teams.

Finally, there is Bing Chat (which was just also renamed to CoPilot): This is an online version of CoPilot that uses Bing as the search engine. You can access Bing Chat by going to bing.com/chat or by clicking on the chat icon on the Bing homepage. “Bing Chat puts the power of AI into your online search”, is how Microsoft puts it.

What can it do?

You can use Bing Chat for various purposes such as travel planning, community organizing, comparison shopping, or anything you search for on the web. You can use Bing Chat, e.g., to find the best deals on flights and hotels, get recommendations for local attractions and restaurants, join or create groups for common interests or causes, compare prices and features of different products or services, or explore any topic you are curious about.

Microsoft 365 Copilot can assist you in creating, editing, and improving your documents, emails, presentations, and more. It can help you write faster, better, and more confidently by generating text, suggesting edits, providing feedback, and offering insights. You can use it to create documents, emails, presentations, reports, blogs, and more. It can suggest content, format, style, and grammar based on your data, the Microsoft Graph, the Microsoft 365 apps, and the web. It can even catch up on email threads by getting a summary of the conversation. It can also answer your questions and provide relevant information from trusted sources.

The latter also applies to Bing Chat and the version of CoPilot that comes with Windows. It is a wide purpose generative AI tool that can answer questions, write texts, program code, etc. It can transcribe meetings and summarize the discussion using simple language. It can generate text and images based on your prompts and topics. It can turn documents into presentations or vice versa.

What are the benefits of CoPilot?

Microsoft identifies several benefits CoPilot offers. It can help you save time and effort by automating tedious tasks and generating content faster. It can assist you in learning new skills and improve your writing by providing feedback and suggestions. It also helps you unleash your creativity and explore new possibilities by offering diverse and relevant ideas.

What are the benefits of Microsoft CoPilot for Lawyers?

More specifically for lawyers, Copilot offers the following benefits. It helps to research legal topics and find relevant information from reliable sources. It assists in drafting contracts, agreements, and other legal documents with accuracy and clarity. And it can help you communicate effectively with clients, colleagues, and judges by using appropriate tone and language.

Availability of CoPilot

There is a lot of uncertainty about the availability of the different versions of CoPilot.

According to Microsoft, Copilot is currently available in the US, the UK, and select countries in Asia and South America. However, due to Europe’s privacy protection laws, Copilot is currently unavailable there. Microsoft aims to expand its availability beyond the initial regions, and is in negotiations with the EU.

Let us first have a look at the availability of CoPilot outside of the EU.

Since Microsoft Copilot will be integrated among different Microsoft products, the release dates differ.

  • Copilot started rolling out on Windows 11 on September 26 through a Windows 11 update.
  • Copilot began rolling out to Bing and Edge about two months ago.
  • Microsoft 365 Copilot began rolling out for enterprise customers on November 1 and will roll out to non-enterprise users at a later date. The enterprise version supports several languages, including English, Spanish, Japanese, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, and Chinese Simplified. More languages are planned to be supported over the first half of 2024.

Within the EU

Officially Microsoft 365 CoPilot for enterprise users is not yet available within the EU. However, several enterprise users who have their information hosted on Microsoft Azure servers within Europe have reported that Microsoft 365 CoPilot for enterprise users is available to them.

Copilot in Windows is in limited preview available in Europe, meaning that it is not fully functional and may have some bugs or errors. Copilot for Sales is also available in preview, meaning that it is still under development and may change over time.

Microsoft has stated that it will comply with both the EU and the UK data protection laws and will ensure that its customers can continue to use its services without disruption. Microsoft has also announced that it will offer a new option for its customers in the EU: the EU Data Boundary. This option will allow customers to choose to have their core customer data stored and processed within the EU only by the end of 2022. This option will cover Microsoft 365 CoPilot as well as other online services.

If you are interested in trying out Copilot in Europe, you may be able to bypass the regional restriction by running `microsoft-edge://?ux=copilot&tcp=1&source=taskbar` in the Run Command box. However, this may not work for all users and may violate the Digital Markets Act that disallows market monopoly. And you do so at your own risk.

 

 

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Generative AI

In a previous article, we talked about ChatGPT. It is a prime example of generative AI (artificial intelligence). In this article, we will explore generative ai a bit more in detail. We’ll answer questions like, “What is Generative AI?”, “Why is Generative AI important?”, “What can it do?”, “What are the downsides?”, and “What are the Generative AI applications for lawyers?”.

What is Generative AI?

A website dedicated to generative AI defines it as “the part of Artificial Intelligence that can generate all kinds of data, including audio, code, images, text, simulations, 3D objects, videos, and so forth. It takes inspiration from existing data, but also generates new and unexpected outputs, breaking new ground in the world of product design, art, and many more.” (generativeai.net)

The definition Sabrina Ortiz gives on ZDNet is complementary: “All it refers to is AI algorithms that generate or create an output, such as text, photo, video, code, data, and 3D renderings, from data they are trained on. The premise of generative AI is to create content, as opposed to other forms of AI, which might be used for other purposes, such as analysing data or helping to control a self-driving car.” As such, Generative AI is a type of machine learning that is specifically designed to create (generate) content.

Two types of generative AI have been making headlines. There are programs that can create visual art, like Midjourney or DALL-E2. And there are applications like ChatGPT that can generate almost any desired text output and excels in conversation in natural language.

Why is Generative AI important?

Generative AI is still in its early stages and already it can perform impressive tasks. As it grows and becomes more powerful, it will fundamentally change the way we operate and live. Many experts agree it will have an impact that is at least as big as the introduction of the Internet. Just think of how much the Internet has become of our daily lives. Generative AI, too, is expected to become fully integrated into our lives. And it is expected to do so quickly. One expert predicts that on average we will have new and twice as powerful generative AI systems every 18 months. Only four months after ChatGPT 3.5 was released, on 14 March 2023, a new, more powerful, more accurate, and more sophisticated version 4.0 was released. The new version is a first step towards a multimodal generative AI, i.e., one that can work with several media simultaneously: text, graphics, video, audio. It can create output of over 25 000 words of text, which allows it to be more creative and collaborative. And it’s safer and faster.

Let us next have a look at what generative AI can already do, and what it will be able to do soon.

What can it do?

One of the first areas where generative AI was making major breakthroughs was to create visual art. Sabrina Ortiz explains, “Generative AI art is created by AI models that are trained on existing art. The model is trained on billions of images found across the internet. The model uses this data to learn styles of pictures and then uses this insight to generate new art when prompted by an individual through text.” These are five free AI art generators that you can try out for yourself:

We already know from our previous article that ChatGPT can create virtually any text output. It can write emails and other correspondence, papers, a range of legal documents including contracts, programming code, episodes of TV series, etc. It can assist in research, make summaries of text, describe artwork, etc.

More and more search engines are starting to use generative AI as well. Bing, DuckDuckGo, and You.com, e.g., all already have a chat interface. When you ask a question, you get an answer in natural language, instead of a list of URLs. Bing even gives the references that it based its feedback on. Google is expected to launch its own generative AI enabled search engine soon.

More specifically to programming, one of the major platforms for developers (GitHub) announced it now has an AI Copilot for Business which is an AI-powered developer tool that can write code, debug and give feedback on existing code. It can solve any issues it may detect in the code.

Google’s MusicLM already can write music upon request, and the new ChatGPT version 4 announced a similar offering, too. YouTube also has announced that it will start offering generative AI assistance for video creation.

Generative AI tools can be useful writing assistants. The article on g2.com, mentioned in the sources, lists 48 free writing assistants, though many of them use a freemium model. Writer’s block may soon be a thing of the past, as several of these writing assistants only need a key word to start producing a first draft. You even get to choose the writing style.

Generative AI can also accelerate scientific research and increase our knowledge. It can, e.g., lower healthcare costs and speed up drug development.

In Britain, a nightclub successfully organized a dance event where the DJ was an AI bot.

All existing chatbots can get an upgrade where they will become far better at natural language conversations. And generative AI integrated with the right customer processes will improve customer experience.

As you can see, even though we’re only at the beginning of the generative AI revolution, the possibilities are endless.

What are the downsides?

At present, generative AI tools are mostly tools that assist. The output needs to be supervised. Sometimes, ChatGPT, e.g., gives incorrect answers. Worse, it can just make things up, and an experiment with a legal chatbot discovered that the bot just started lying because it had concluded that that was the most effective way to get the desired end result. So, there are no guarantees that the produced output is correct. And the AI system does not care whether what it does is morally or legally acceptable. Extra safeguards will have to be built in, which is why there are several calls to regulate AI.

There also is an ongoing debate about intellectual property rights. If a program takes an existing image and merely applies one or more filters, does this infringe on the intellectual property of the original artist? Where do you draw the line? And who owns the copyright on what generative AI creates? If, e.g., a pharmaceutical company uses an AI tool to create a new drug, who can take a patent? Is it the pharmaceutical company, the company that created the AI tool, or the AI tool itself?

And as generative AI becomes better, it will transform the knowledge and creative marketplaces, which will inevitably lead to the loss of jobs.

Generative AI applications for lawyers

As a result of the quick progress in generative AI, existing legal chatbots are already being upgraded. A first improvement has to do with user convenience and user-friendliness because users can now interact with the bots through a natural language interface. The new generation of bots understand more and are also expected to become faster, safer, and more accurate. The new ChatGPT 4 scored in the 90th percentile for the bar exams, where ChatGPT 3 – only a few months earlier – barely passed some exams.

Virtual Legal Assistants (VLA) are getting more and more effective in:

  • Legal research
  • Drafting, reviewing, and summarizing legal documents: contracts, demand letters, discovery demands, nondisclosure agreements, employment agreements, etc.
  • Correspondence
  • Creative collaboration
  • Brainstorming, etc.

As mentioned before, at present these AI assistants are just that, i.e., assistants. They can create draft versions of legal documents, but those still need revision by an actual human lawyer. These VLAs still make errors. But at the same time, they can already considerably enhance productivity by saving you a lot of time. And they are getting better and better fast, as the example of the bar exams confirms.

 

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ChatGPT for Lawyers

In this article we will first talk about recent evolutions in the field of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) in general, and about a new generation of chat bots. Then we focus on one particular one that is getting a lot of attention, i.e., ChatGPT. What is ChatGPT? What can it do, and what are the limits? Finally, we look at the relevance of ChatGPT for lawyers.

Introduction

We are witnessing the emergence of a new generation of chat bots that are more powerful than ever before. (We discussed legal chat bots before, here and here). Several of them excel in conversation. Some of these conversationalist chat bots recently made headlines on several occasions. In a first example, in December 2022, the DoNotPay chat bot renegotiated a customer’s contract with Comcast’s chat bot and managed to save 120 USD per year. (You read that correctly, two bots effectively renegotiating a contract). Shortly afterwards, a computer using a cloned voice of a customer was connected to the DoNotPay chat bot. A call was made to the support desk of a company and the speaking chat bot negotiated successfully with a live person for a reduction of a commercial penalty. The search engine You.com has added a conversation chat bot that allows people to ask a question and the reply is presented in a conversational format rather than a list of links. Microsoft has announced that its Bing search engine will start offering a conversational interface as well.

Conversationalist chat bots are a form of generative AI. Generative AI has made tremendous progress in other fields like the creation of digital artwork, or in filters and effects for all kinds of digital media, or in the generation of documents. These can be any documents: legal documents, blog or magazine articles, papers, programming code… Only days ago, the C-NET technology website revealed that they had started publishing articles since November 2022 that were entirely written by generative AI. Over a period of two months, they published 74 articles that were written by a bot, and the readers did not notice.

One chat bot in particular has been in the news on a nearly daily basis since it was launched in November 2022. Its name is ChatGPT and the underlying technology has also been used in some of the examples mentioned above.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer. The Wikipedia describes it as “a chatbot launched by OpenAI in November 2022. It is built on top of OpenAI’s GPT-3 family of large language models and is fine-tuned (an approach to transfer learning) with both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques. ChatGPT was launched as a prototype on November 30, 2022, and quickly garnered attention for its detailed responses and articulate answers across many domains of knowledge.”

In other words, it’s a very advanced chat bot that can carry a conversation. It remembers previous questions you asked and the answers it gave. Because it was trained on a large-scale database of texts, retrieved from the Internet, it can converse on a wide variety of topics. And because it was trained on natural language models, it is quite articulate.

What can it do and what are the limits?

Its primary use probably is as a knowledge search engine. You can ask a question just like you ask a question in any search engine. But the feedback it gives does not consist of a series of links. Instead, it consults what it has scanned beforehand and provides you with a summary text containing the reply to the question you asked.

But it doesn’t stop there, as the examples we have already mentioned illustrate. You can ask it to write a paper or an article on a chosen topic. You can determine the tone and style of the output. Lecturers have used it to prepare lectures. Many users asked it to write poetry on topics of their choice. They could even ask it to write sonnets or limericks, and it obliged. And most of the time, with impressive results. It succeeds wonderfully well in carrying a philosophical discussion. Programmers have asked it to write program code, etc. It does a great job of describing existing artwork. In short, if the desired output is text-based, chances are ChatGPT can deliver. As one reporter remarked, the possibilities are endless.

There are of course limitations. If the data sets it learned from contained errors, false information, or biases, the system will inherit those. A reporter who asked ChatGPT to write a product review commented on how the writing style and the structure of the article were very professional, but that the content was largely wrong. Many of the specifications it gave were from the predecessor of the product it was asked to review. In other words, a review by a person who has the required knowledge is still needed.

Sometimes, it does not understand the question, and it needs to be rephrased. On the other hand, sometimes the answers are excessively verbose with little valuable content. (I guess that dataset contained speeches by politicians). There still are plenty of topics that it has no reliable knowledge of. When you ask it if it can give you some legal advice, it will tell you it is not qualified to do so. (But if you rephrase the question, you may get an answer anyway, and it may or may not be accurate). Some of the programming code appeared to be copied from sites used by developers, which would constitute a copyright infringement. And much of the suggested programming code turned out to be insufficiently secure. For those reasons, several sites like StackOverflow are banning replies that are generated by ChatGPT.

Several other concerns were also voiced. As the example of CNET shows, these new generative AI bots have the potential of eliminating the need for a human writer. ChatGPT can also write an entire full essay within seconds, making it easier for students to cheat or to avoid learning how to write properly. Another concern is the possible spread of misinformation. If you know enough sources of the dataset that the chatbot learns from, you could deliberately flood it with false information.

What is the Relevance of ChatGPT for Lawyers?

Lawyers have been using generative AI for a while. It has proven to be successful in drafting and reviewing contracts and other legal documents. Bots like DoNotPay, Lawdroid, and HelloDivorce are successfully assisting in legal matters on a daily basis. For these existing legal bots, ChatGPT can provide a user-friendly conversationalist interface that make them easier to use.

When it comes to ChatGPT itself, several lawyers have reported on their experiences and tests with the system. It turned out that it could mimic the work of lawyers with varying degrees of success. For some items, it did a great job. It, e.g., successfully wrote a draft renting agreement. And it did a good job at comparing different versions of a legal document and highlighting what the differences were. But in other tests, the information it provided was inaccurate or plain wrong, where it, e.g., confused different concepts.

And the concerns that apply to generative AI in general, also apply to ChatGPT. These include concerns about bias and discrimination, privacy and compliance with existing privacy and data protection regulation like the GDPR, fake news and misleading content. For ChatGPT, the issue of intellectual property rights was raised as well. The organization behind ChatGPT claims it never copies texts verbatim, but tests with programming code appear to show differently. (You can’t really paraphrase programming code).

Given the success and interest in ChatGPT, the usual question was raised whether AI will replace the need for lawyers. And the answer stays the same that, no, it won’t. At present, the results are often very impressive, but they are not reliable enough. Still, the progress that has been made shows that it will get better and better at performing some of the tasks that lawyers do. It is good at gathering information, at summarizing it and at comparing texts. And only days ago (13 January 2023) the American Bar Association announced that ChatGPT had successfully passed one of its bar exams on evidence. But lawyers are still needed when it comes to critical thinking or the elaborate application of legal principles.

Conclusion

A new generation of chat bots is showing us the future. Even though tremendous progress has been made, there are still many scenarios where they’re not perfect. Still, they are improving every single day. And while at present supervision is still needed to check the results, they can offer valuable assistance. As one lecturer put it, instead of spending a whole day preparing a lecture, he lets ChatGPT do the preparation for him and write a first draft. He then only needs one hour to review and correct it.

For lawyers, too, the same applies. The legal texts it generates can be a hit and miss, and supervision is needed. You could think of the current status where the chat bot is like a first- or second-year law student doing an internship. They can save you time, but you have to review what they’re doing and correct where necessary. Tom Martin from Lawdroid puts it as follows: “If lawyers frame Generative AI as a push button solution, then it will likely be deemed a failure because some shortcoming can be found with the output from someone’s point of view. On the other hand, if success is defined as productive collaboration, then expectations may be better aligned with Generative AI’s strengths.”

 

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