Chief Justice John Roberts is turning his focus to the promise and shortcomings of artificial intelligence in the federal courts
WASHINGTON -- Chief Justice John Roberts on Sunday turned his focus to the promise, and shortcomings, of artificial intelligence in the federal courts, in an annual report that made no mention of Supreme Court ethics or legal controversies involving Donald Trump.
Describing artificial intelligence as the "latest technological frontier,” Roberts discussed the pros and cons of computer-generated content in the legal profession. His remarks come just a few days after the latest instance of AI-generated fake legal citations making their way into official court records, in a case involving ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
“Always a bad idea,” Roberts wrote in his year-end report, noting that “any use of AI requires caution and humility.”
At the same time, though, the chief justice acknowledged that AI can make it much easier for people without much money to access the courts. “These tools have the welcome potential to smooth out any mismatch between available resources and urgent needs in our court system,” Roberts wrote.
The report came at the end of a year in which a series of stories questioned the ethical practices of the justices and the court responded to critics by adopting its first code of conduct. Many of those stories focused on Justice Clarence Thomas and his failure to disclose travel, other hospitality and additional financial ties with wealthy conservative donors including Harlan Crow and the Koch brothers. But Justices Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor also have been under scrutiny.