Tag: Artificial Intelligence

23 Apr

Predicting Death with Artificial Intelligence

Sayuri Kagami Ethical Issues, Health / Medical, In the News Tags: , , , 0 Comments

The use of artificial intelligence (“AI”) is saturating all facets of life and death. While we might often think of AI as some future product of a technologically advanced society, it is already in common use. Think of Apple’s Siri and Google Translate; both require AI in order to function.

Earlier this year, my colleague, Garrett Horrocks, blogged on a study showing the promising use of AI in detecting Alzheimer’s. This month, a recent study out from the University of Nottingham explores the use of AI in predicting premature death of middle-aged persons. The study shows promising results.

AI and Bias

AI isn’t a dream of the future – it already saturates our every day life

While many reports are optimistic in how such predictive models can improve preventative health care, others are more cautious. A recent article from Wired raises the issue of potential bias in such AI models. The article delves into the concerns of scholars that AI might adopt and even promote bias as a result of implicit biases that already exist. Take, for example, the Amazon AI recruitment tool which was designed to review resumes of job applicants and pick the top candidates. Amazon abandoned the project after experiencing several issues, including the program explicitly discriminating against women. The program did so by penalizing candidates who graduated from women’s colleges or had the word “women’s” in their resume (e.g. “women’s chess club”).

The Wired article also raises concerns about existing biases in health care services, such as how patients of different ethnics groups are treated differently for pain with studies in the US finding that racial and ethnic minorities tend to be undertreated for pain, compared to non-Hispanic white persons. While the Wired article raises concerns about the potential biases that can be adopted and/or promoted by AI, the article also notes the potential for AI to reduce bias by focusing on objective factors affecting a person’s health.

AI and the Law

Many say that the law and lawyers are resistant to change (who still relies on faxes?). Despite any such resistance, the legal system, like everyone else, is being dragged into the world of AI, whether ready or not. Just as AI is revolutionizing health care, legal products implementing AI are being developed, with some estimating that over 100,000 jobs in the legal sector will be automated by 2036.

More importantly, however, is the ongoing need for the law to adapt to the changing world of AI. The implementation of AI in our everyday life has significant ramifications from the products recommended to us while online shopping to whether or not we might receive proper preventative health care. With the potential for ethical abuses and unintended consequences (such as discrimination), it will be interesting to see how (or if) laws and regulations develop to address these new advances in AI.

Thanks for reading!

Sayuri Kagami

15 Nov

Blade Runner: Estate planning in a futuristic world

Ian Hull Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, In the News Tags: , 0 Comments

Could assets be passed one day to non-living beings, those created through artificial intelligence but possessing human-like qualities?

Many of the laws that govern estates in Canada trace their roots back centuries. Our area of law has never been seen as “cutting edge” in the way that an area like tech law is perceived. How could it be – the public image of estates law is old people dying and old lawyers blowing dust off wills to reveal who gets what.

How wrong that image is. Yes, technology will continue to define new assets – bitcoin, drones, blogs – but estates law continues to evolve to deal with how those rights and assets are passed on.

But there’s a “next stage” to technology that goes beyond assets to the who (or what) gets what. Here’s my question: could technology also play a role in who your assets are passed on to? Estates law today is based on the orderly disposition of assets from a deceased to other humans or human-created institutions, such as trusts or charities. But what about the potential Blade Runner effect?

I haven’t seen Blade Runner 2049, but anyone familiar with the film, or the original Blade Runner movie in 1982, knows about replicants, human-looking artificial lifeforms that play key roles in both films. Today, this is still in the realm of science fiction, but we’ve all read about the power of, and advances in, artificial intelligence.

With Blade Runner 2049 in mind, this article from the smithsonianmag.com tackles, from a philosophical perspective, the very question of what it is to be human.


And the truth is, robotic companionship based on artificial intelligence is here. This article from The Guardian may focus on the more lurid sex doll industry, but it touches on the evolution of artificial beings in becoming more permanent companions.


These advances are happening under our feet, and it will be fascinating to see how estates law – and public policy – adapt. If a being created through artificial intelligence can think, speak, bank, and do laundry, can it be the beneficiary under a will? Artificial beings will have costs and health care/maintenance needs like humans. Will there be – at one point – an obligation to provide for these beings, just as there is today to provide for dependants under family and succession laws?

I’ll probably take in the Blade Runner 2049 movie this weekend and give it a thought.

Thank you for reading!
Ian Hull

28 Apr

Artificial Intelligence as Evidence?

Hull & Hull LLP Ethical Issues, General Interest, In the News Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

Will there ever be a time when artificial intelligence may be used as corroborating evidence in estate litigation?

Estate litigators are familiar with section 13 of the Evidence Act, which states that, “an action by or against the heirs, next of kin, executors, administrators or assigns of a deceased person, an opposite or interested party shall not obtain a verdict, judgment or decision on his or her own evidence in respect of any matter occurring before the death of the deceased person, unless such evidence is corroborated by some other material evidence”.

Couple this requirement with the advancement of posthumous artificial intelligence.

According to a recent article on CNN, an AI start-up has been extracting information from the online presence of a deceased person.  Information gained from text messages, tweets, and Facebook posts were used to create a computerized chatbot based off the deceased’s personality.

According to the CNN author, several conversations were had with the deceased (as a chatbot), and believed that the deceased’s ethos was well captured.  In fact, the author notes that one such friend of the deceased was texting with the chatbot for 30 minutes without realizing that the discussion was with the chatbot.

It is interesting to wonder whether AI will ever develop to the point where a litigator will rely on information from a chatbot as corroborating evidence.

Noah Weisberg

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