While AI continues to be top of mind for every industry it touches, there seems to be a glaring miss amid the hot takes on the machines. The humans. If we are to trust this technology to be an extension of human creativity, then it makes sense to get to know the people who make it happen every day.
Introducing Humans Behind the AI – a series that spotlights the personalities and passionate trailblazers behind AI technology.
Meet James Park
Director of AI Consulting at DISCO
Self-proclaimed sci-fi nerd, former lawyer, and human.
Q: How does a lawyer end up finding a career in AI?
James Park: Great question. I had either the dumb idea or the bright idea of going to law school. Depends on what day you ask me. That said, my background is in science as I have a dual degree in Chemical Engineering and Material Science Engineering, but I thoroughly enjoy law. I graduated law school in ‘07 and at the time I had this idea that I wanted to live in New York.
So, I moved to New York and I heard about document review jobs, which normally require experience, but I got lucky. A company had an emergency project and they needed people so I got my foot in the door on a project that was supposed to last two weeks and ended up lasting a day... But, they kept bringing me back for more projects and eventually told me about their new Data Analytics Department which needed lawyers with technical experience.
Turns out I was a good fit.
Q: Does your law background come into play at all when you think about AI?
Park: My legal training probably affects me more than I realize. Without that training, I’d think ‘let's see how far we can take this, right?’ With that legal background, some of that is tempered – but AI is here to stay and will transform our lives. This train is not slowing down no matter how many moratorium letters that people write.
Q: So, AI is here to stay. What’s next?
Park: I don’t know if this is more from my sci-fi nerd or law side but we’ve already seen that AI’s goals can diverge from humanity’s goals, right? We’ve seen that AI can be deceptive through movies like ‘The Matrix’ or ‘Ex Machina’ and that AI agents can learn deceptive behaviors – albeit without intent or comprehension.
So, how do we make this a tool that we can use rather than creating an entirely new being and how do we build an ethical framework to address all of those complex issues? It sounds far-fetched but these are my thoughts because I'm trained to 'think like a lawyer.’
Q: On the topic of ethics, is privacy an issue?
Park: That’s the beauty of it – it’s similar to the model of Alexa or social media. We give away our data to companies because we benefit from it: Amazon reward cards, targeted ads, etc. There’s technology now that accurately makes medical predictions about people using just their data. I think humans will end up making that determination for ourselves.
Who is collecting all my data? And is this convenience worth giving up my privacy? Historically, humans have said ‘yes.’
Q: What’s your biggest hope for AI?
Park: This is a much bigger moment in time than the arrival of the internet. The internet democratized information and opened the door globally to unbelievable amounts of data and ways of learning. This is bigger than that. AI is impacting our lives today in ways we don’t even realize and generative AI will replace a lot of the mundane. This means more time with loved ones, family, travel – more time doing the things we enjoy.
So, my biggest hope is that highly-tuned AI means it will potentially predict global events, prevent tragedies, and ultimately – save lives.
For further reading on the future of legal technology and how AI is shaping the landscape, click here.
Meet more of the Humans Behind AI: