AI in business: between opportunities and legal risks

Articles of The Team

16/02/2021

As Latin proverb forts fortuna juvat reads, ‘luck favours the bold’.

A true credo in the business world, the proverb suggests that only by taking risks can we find fortune and success. In other words, independent of our own actions, there is no pure luck which would lead to certain success without a little daring on our part.

But what risks does a business have to take today to have ‘Lady Luck’ smile on them? Are all risks good to take?

To these two questions, two possible answers:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) may be one of the risks worth taking.
  • All risks are good to take as long as they do not endanger others, and as long as they have the chance to become opportunities.

AI can be defined as “the set of theories and techniques used to build machines capable of simulating intelligence”.

Since it is supposed to simulate human intelligence, it is easy to imagine all the opportunities AI presents in the corporate world.

However, the big sceptics, tired of seeing AI presented as the miracle solution for all problems, are already saying that it’s nothing but a distraction.

This position is not entirely wrong, in the sense that AI, theorised since the 1950’s, is only an algorithm. It is not necessarily that robot that we all imagine, endowed with consciousness and feelings and ready to replace humans in any task. In addition, there is not one AI, but various AIs that work with various learning techniques (reinforcement learning, supervised learning, etc.), therefore serving different purposes.

However, the presence of AI in business is no myth. Maybe your company is using it without you even realising it.

Indeed, all branches of a company, regardless of its industry, may already be innervated by AI. We may mention the human resources department using AI for recruitment and payroll management; client relations with its implementation of chatbots; inventory management; communication via targeted advertising, for example; legal research using robots such as Ross, etc.

The main purpose of all of these AIs is to save considerable time, allowing employees to focus on tasks with higher added value. They also allow the business to scale faster and to get the most value from the time spent on an assignment.

While AI is a real opportunity for companies, it should still be noted that it can present some risks. For example, Amazon, like many companies, uses AI to recruit employees. However, it found that one of the AIs, since modified, ‘discriminated’ against certain candidates during recruitment. This can pose a significant liability risk to the business. Likewise, a chatbot which would make defamatory remarks or an AI which would contract with the wrong person on the wrong terms could have serious consequences for the company using the AI.

Today, there is no clear legal regime for AI, especially when it comes to liability. In this sense, the European Union has been working for several years on the development of a body of rules common to all Member States in order to secure the use of AI and to promote innovation.

 

Author

Audrey Degouey

Associate

Audrey Degouey is a trainee attorney at the École de Formation professionnelle des Barreaux (EFB) in Paris. She will be sworn in and become an attorney in fall 2021.

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