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Arjun Rangarajan, Sr. Counsel, AI & Machine Learning at Apple

Arjun Rangarajan, Sr. Counsel, AI & Machine Learning at Apple

June 20, 2023

Please share your background and experience in practicing law with a focus on AI. How has your career evolved as this technology has advanced? I started working in this area when I was an associate at Gibson Dunn. One of the partners in the office was starting up a practice area focused on AI and I got involved. I had been keeping up with some of the developments in the machine learning space and thought it raised some very interesting and novel questions in the areas of intellectual property, liability and privacy. The newly formed practice group gave me an opportunity to do more research in the area as well as to work on counseling clients that were at the cutting edge of AI. Then an opportunity came up at Apple that I could not pass up. It was an in-house role dedicated to product counseling of the AI-focused teams here — both teams involved in technology development and those involved in shipping ML-based features. It’s been a very enjoyable role at Apple so far.

As most people will tell you, the technology has been around for a while. However, there’s been a deluge in interest in large language models since Open AI launched ChatGPT last year. It made a lot of non-technical folks realize where state-of-the-art was in terms of generative AI and a lot of people (myself included) were amazed by its capabilities. Several professions have since been considering applications of generative AI to improve efficiencies and experiences. While doing so, they are obviously interested in understanding various legal and regulatory risks involved. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve been thinking about these issues for a little while now. There’s still a lot of uncertainties in the area and we’ll all see how things play out; but my head start has helped me be more impactful in my role.

What are some potential benefits and challenges that lawyers and law firms should be aware of when using these tools? I’m impressed by how good AI has become at creating content. Whether it is a poem, story, image or email - all examples of content traditionally reserved to human creativity - AI is competing, and winning. As a lawyer, it makes research and summarization of the vast amounts of data available on a topic very easy.

Large Language Models can be great at creating a first draft of documents. This includes for law practice. It is easy to see how first drafts of contracts, briefs or research memos can be created quickly and inexpensively.

It is also worth noting that LLMs are (at least presently) not always accurate, and can “hallucinate.” You might have read of the recent situations where AI dreamed up non-existent cases and citations. This is a real problem that can be very hard to detect. Besides, from a legal standpoint, output created by LLMs can present IP, privacy, liability, regulatory and other issues.

What excites you the most about the future of AI? Any general thoughts you would like to share? Over the long term, I see every new technological disruption providing an opportunity to eventually move on to do more value-added tasks. Without calculators and computers, it would be very hard to find large prime numbers! The legal profession is no exception. Eventually, I see good attorneys continue to leverage the tools available to them in useful ways, while moving on to focus on even better ways to provide the best advice to their clients.

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