Chief Justice Andrew Bell flags generative AI as major challenge for justice system

In a landmark address marking the bicentenary of the Supreme Court of NSW, Chief Justice Andrew Bell highlighted generative AI as a pivotal challenge facing the justice system. Speaking to an assembly of senior judges from Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, Bell emphasised the evolving complexities that AI introduces to the work of the courts.

After commenting on the well-known challenges of deepfakes and AI hallucinations, Bell stressed the particular issue for the courts of understanding how AI-generated conclusions based on analysis of large volumes of data and complex expert reports might have been arrived at. It was important for the court to understand how AI had reached its conclusions as this might have an impact on its reasoning. Overall, he struck a positive note about the potential of AI but highlighted the need to approach its use consciously, noting the proactive steps being taken by legal bodies, like the Law Society of New South Wales and the NSW Bar Association, to formulate guidelines regulating AI’s use in legal practice. He also stressed the need to ensure that law students continue to be tested on their understanding of fundamental legal principles and not just on their ability to formulate AI prompts.

In concluding, Chief Justice Bell reiterated the judiciary’s critical function in maintaining the rule of law and addressing societal issues, stressing the need for an adaptive legal framework to meet both the opportunities and challenges posed by digital advances like AI.

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