Contracts in the age of AI readers
Prof Samuel Becher (Victoria University of Wellington) and Prof Yonathan Arbel (University of Alabama)
|A Law School research event|
|Date||9 December 2020|
|Time||17:00 to 18:00|
CELS research centre will have a pleasure to host a joint presentation of Professor Samuel Becher (Associate Professor at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand) and Professor Yonathan Arbel (Associate Professor at the University of Alabama, US) introducing us to their new, draft paper on "Contracts in the age of AI readers". Due to the difference in time zones (UK-NZ-US) the presentation is scheduled late in the afternoon for us, but I hope many of you will be able to join us. Please spread the news with your students, if you think they may be interested, as well. This term we are not limited by location sizes.
Abstract of the presentation:
Recent advances in machine learning models have led to a fundamental shift in the ability of machines to read and parse complex language. This, in turn, raises an intriguing challenge: How should consumer law respond to technologies that can read, analyse and evaluate consumer contracts? Addressing this challenge, the article provides a general framework for evaluating the legal and policy implications of using Artificial Readers (ARs) in the context of consumer contracts.
Synthesising state of the art developments, we identify three core capabilities of ARs. We demonstrate, using real-world examples produced from new machine-learning models, that ARs can (1) simplify and summarise complex legal language; (2) expound contractual language and tailor its presentation to the consumer’s specific socio-cultural identity; and (3) benchmark and rank contracts, highlighting non-standard terms and scoring contracts on various metrics.
But the implications of ARs are more complex than initially meets the eye. While ARs can eradicate traditional consumer-side barriers, they also involve hidden risks that sophisticated parties can exploit. ARs are imperfect black-box models, and existing contractual doctrines are ill-equipped to deal with a situation where a consumer is misled by an AR. Furthermore, ARs are open to manipulation by firms through techniques known as “adversarial examples.” Additionally, the growth of ARs may backfire and lead courts to increasingly endorse stronger versions of the duty to read. Our suggestions will help policymakers and courts better cope with the new realities, in which technological tools will read and analyse contracts for consumers.
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