Published: May 2, 2024 By

Colorado Law’s powerhouse organizations—the Byron White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law, Silicon Flatirons, and the Daniels Fund—brought together legal scholars, lawyers, entrepreneurs and scientists to examine the ethical challenges posed by the rapid integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into various aspects of society. Against the backdrop of technological advancement, the event provided a platform for rigorous discussion and introspection about the legal and ethical implications of AI’s integration into areas as varied as employment, elections , climate change mitigation and space exploration.Newton Campbell

Moses Lasky Professor of Law and Director of the White Center, Suzette Malveaux, set the stage for this interdisciplinary exploration of AI’s multi-faceted dimensions and growing impact on the U.S. legal landscape.   The April 18th CLE lunch talk kicked off the larger AI and the Consitution Rothgerber Conference, held the next day.  In a packed house, the speakers took on the important topic of critically evaluating the inherent biases and vulnerabilities of AI.speakers at panel

Dr. Newton Campbell, Director of Space Programs at Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth (AROSE), delivered a thought-provoking address highlighting the nuanced ways in which AI systems are susceptible to bias. Campbell offered the concept of AI as a "useful idiot"—a tool capable of remarkable utility, yet vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation.  By meticulously examininginjection, infection, evasion, poisoning, and extraction, Campbell underscored the urgent necessity for a deeper understanding of bias within AI systems, especially in cybersecurity.Chris goodman

Building upon Campbell's insights, George Washington Law Professor Spencer Overton, a distinguished scholar and advocate for technological equity, emphasized the broader societal implications of AI bias. Beyond conventional concerns surrounding risk assessment and hiring practices, Overton emphasized the systemic challenges posed by AI in the context of democracy and social cohesion. Drawing attention to the limitations of data scraping and the linguistic biases inherent in AI models, Overton challenged attendees to confront the underlying structural inequities perpetuated by these technologies.

Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Professor, Chris Chambers Goodman, expounded upon the ethical obligations incumbent upon legal practitioners when navigating the complex terrain of AI integration. Goodman highlighted the intersection between AI and legal ethics, citing the American Bar Association's model rule against discrimination as a guiding principle for addressing discriminatory conduct related to AI implementation. Goodman outlined six key areas of bias in machine learning, urging legal professionals to proactively engage with emerging technologies to ensure ethical compliance and competence.

With standing room only and more questions than time, the speakers engaged in a lively Q&A session.  Campbell, Overton, and Goodman offered their perspectives on possible solutions to mitigate AI’s biased results in hiring and admission practices. For example, Alison Noon McMahon ‘24 asked about the preemptive and reactionary ethical and legal actions employers should take to address AI bias. Overton called for employers to continue to educate themselves and to increase their transparency so that to they can begin constructing AI designs that accurately reflect our society’s pluralist aspirations. Goodman urged for greater collaboration among employers as a means of diversifying their baseline screening models generated by AI. Campbel drew attention to the complexities of determining how retroactive liability gets assigned when employers administer biased hiring technology.Spencer overton

McMahon thought the panel was “spectacular.” She left appreciating the opportunity for urgent legal work “to protect the public from the technology’s downfalls, but also to protect people from themselves and each other” as they familiarize themselves with these unprecedented tools.

As many are inclined to to advance popular AI technologies, Malveaux, Overton, Goodman, and Campbell provided a thoughtful approach for students and legal, tech, and business professionals to proceed with caution. Watch a full recording of the event here, and view more photos in our flickr gallery