Artificial Intelligence ante portas: the End of Comparative Law?

Lutz-Christian Wolff – Faculty of Law, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

-- In my recently published article “Artificial Intelligence ante portas: The End of Comparative Law?”, I recall that Artificial intelligence (AI) can do many things that were not thought of some years ago and that are unimaginable for non-AI specialists even today.

In contrast, it is relatively easy to understand that AI can be used to compare contents and structures of laws and legal documents. In fact, it is because of its comparative abilities that AI is now playing an increasingly important role—for example, in due diligence exercises where contracts, documents as well as other materials and legal data of target companies are checked and compared with standard patterns. If the ‘ability to compare’ is one of the core features of AI it is only natural to assume that AI is an ideal tool to conduct comparative law work.

My article explores - from a purely conceptual point of view – if this assumption is correct. For this purpose I first highlighting key features of the comparative law work process which for some reason does not receive much attention in the legal literature. I then describe and analyze the main stages of comparative law work, i.e. the setting of methodological parameters, the collection of data and other information, the actual comparison and the drawing of conclusions. I investigate which parts can (or cannot) be conducted by AI. I also ask if AI will—within the scope of its comparative abilities—in fact, ‘take over’ the work which is nowadays done by human comparatists in the future.

I show that while AI seems to be a perfect tool to conduct comparative law work, things can go wrong if AI is badly designed or runs out of control. In other words, comparative law work is in the same way subject to AI risks as any other area. Nevertheless, it must be concluded that it is more likely than not that major parts of comparative law work will in the future be AI-based.

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