Supporters of neurotechnology for lawyers have argued that corporate clients will press for chips as an efficiency measure, as it would cut legal costs, as well as reduce the number of solicitors needed to work on complex cases.
The report, published last week, forecasted that brain implants could become the “iPhone of the future” in the legal profession.
Skyrocketing hourly billing rates for legal advice is a concern in the City, where a radical technological solution to reducing costs significantly would be an attractive option to chief executives and board directors, reported the Times.
The report, from Neurotechnology, Law and the Legal Profession, predicted: “Lawyers might try to gain an advantage over competitors and try to stay ahead of increasingly capable artificial intelligence systems by using neurotechnology to improve their workplace performance.”
Allan McCay, professor at the University of Sydney law school in Australia, who wrote the report, said: “One can imagine changes to billing that may be brought about by the attention-monitoring capacities of neurotechnologies.”
He added: “This might even prompt a move from billable hours to billable attention.”
He also pointed out that Elon Musk has been investigating neurotechnology for the past eight years: “This tech is coming, and we need to think about regulation. Action is needed now as there are significant neurotech investors such as Elon Musk and Meta (Facebook).
“We need law reform bodies, policymakers and academics to be scrutinising these technological advances rather than waiting for problems to emerge.”
Dr Kion Ahadi, the Law Society’s director of strategy, said: “The debate on whether and how we should make our brains ready to be ‘plugged’ into technical devices must begin today.”
He added that implanting chips raises ethical questions: “Any such fusion poses interesting and complex ethical and legal issues.”
Richard Susskind, lawyer turned author, said widespread artificial intelligence would come first, and some AI systems were already outperforming junior lawyers. He added: “In the long run, we’ll all be digitally enhanced … The only question is whether that processing and storage is inside or outside our bodies.”