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AI and the Law: The Challenge of Our Generation
How the story of Orbán and the Sultan sheds light on the moment
Have you ever heard the story of Orbán and the Sultan?
András Orbán was an enterprising Hungarian iron founder and engineer, who lived in the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. He gained a reputation for his ability to produce high-quality artillery pieces, and he soon became one of the most sought-after gun-founders in the empire.
Orbán's cannons were highly prized for their accuracy, range, and durability. He used innovative techniques and materials to produce weapons that were far superior to those of his contemporaries. He had plans to build a super cannon unlike anything ever attempted or seen before.
The Ottoman Sultan at the time was Mehmed II. Mehmed was just 12 years old when he became Sultan upon his father Murad's abdication. But he ruled for just two years before being overthrown by Murad. Mehmed regained the throne in 1451 at the age of 19 and you could say he felt he had something to prove.
Mehmed’s father had tried and failed, as had many Sultans before him, to conquer the last seat of power of the the Eastern Roman Empire, Constantinople. The walls of Constantinople had withstood siege and assault for over a thousand years.
Looking to make his mark, Mehmed asked Orbán if it were possible to build a powerful enough cannon that could breach the walls of Constantinople. Orbán is said to have replied, “I can cast a cannon of bronze with the capacity.. to shatter to dust not only these walls with the stones from my gun, but the very walls of Babylon itself.”
And the rest, as they say, is history. With the aid of the new technologically advanced cannons, Mehmed and his army were able to breach the walls of Constantinople, take the city, and bring the Roman Empire to an end. At the age of 21, Mehmed had accomplished what no other before him had done and, for that reason, he is remembered as Mehmed the Conqueror.
The practice of law is today’s Constantinople.
Its walls have stood for two thousand years, since Emperor Claudius legalized advocacy as a profession and allowed Roman advocates to become the first lawyers who could practice openly and be paid for their service.
And, for all this time, legal representation has had at its core the attorney-client relationship: a one-to-one relationship that is so closely bound it’s hyphenated. This makes sense because ultimately the attorney-client relationship is between two human beings who work together to accomplish a common goal.
Imagine a world where legal services are accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial status or location. This world is not so far-fetched, but it requires a major transformation in the way legal services are delivered. The challenge of our generation is to take legal services from a model of one-to-one, to one-to-many, while ensuring that the delivery of these services is responsible and ethical.
Artificial intelligence is the new technology that makes this all possible.
Next week, I’ll explore how.
If you’re like me, you’ve been experimenting with ChatGPT and how it can help you be more productive with everything you do. If OpenAI called you up personally and asked for your opinion on a new tool they are building to help lawyers, what would you recommend? In this poll, let me know what you think about these options.
And, if you have any other ideas, feel free to comment below.
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