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Lawyer's tips for adopting technology and AI

Integrating technology and AI into your business is an important step towards a more efficient and smarter business environment. The use of AI tools is no longer just the prerogative of companies at the forefront of technology but is fast becoming a commonplace tool for every business to remain competitive.

Three core principles can be used as a roadmap for an organization’s AI journey:

1.       Know the relevant regulation

2.       Communicate, educate, encourage

3.       Know what you get

Know the regulation

Regulation is the bedrock of any organization, and it is the responsibility of the management to ensure compliance. At the time of publishing this article, the AI Act is still being finalized. It will be implemented gradually over the next three years (perhaps as early as 2024 for bans) and will, in time, bring significant new obligations for AI developers and users, particularly in high-risk use cases. Even before that, AI use will be subject to a wide range of different regulations, the most important of which will concern the processing of personal data. The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in general and other privacy-related laws in particular are especially important for the use of AI applications. In addition to data protection, other relevant regulations such as those on trade secrets, copyright protection and labor law also play an important role.

In addition to hard regulation, the use of AI is guided by soft law, such as the UNESCO or OECD ethical principles on AI. AI users should not only comply with existing legislation, but also actively monitor and anticipate future regulatory developments. Adherence to the above-mentioned soft law principles already provides a good basis for such foresight, as e.g. the AI Act is largely built on the same principles.

Communicate, educate, encourage

Although there is constant talk about the use of AI in the workplace, the actual use of AI is still unfamiliar to a lot of employees, and it may not be clear what AI even means. Internal communication and training are essential elements in ensuring the effective and beneficial use of technology and AI, in an ethically and legally sustainable way.

Guiding and encouraging organizations to use AI and other technologies to support the performance of their work is crucial for two reasons:

Firstly, clear guidance, training, and thought-out potential use cases, tailored to the organization’s own processes, will significantly improve the adaptation rate and promote the use of AI tools in different work tasks. When employees feel supported and guided, the threshold for trying new technologies is lowered and technology becomes, ideally, part of everyday life. Employees should also be trained to have sufficient skills to assess the quality and accuracy of AI-generated material. All of this will elevate the maturity and capability of the whole organization to use AI in general, which in turn will open up the possibility of significant improvements in work processes and the creation of new competitive advantages.

Second, clear guidance on how AI should be used is important for risk management. It helps employees to understand what tasks AI tools can be used for and in what context, and to identify situations where their use may be inappropriate or even dangerous. In particular, it is important to provide clear guidance on the use of generative AI tools because of the significant risks associated with them in terms of data confidentiality, personal data protection and the use of inaccurate output material.

AI is an excellent tool for data analysis, automated content creation and supporting decision making, but it is worthwhile to set the ground rules. Developing and implementing clear policies is essential to ensure that AI users understand both the potential and the limits of the technology. Such an approach not only minimizes risk, but also creates a basis for trust and innovation within the company.

Know what you get

Sourcing an effective AI tool requires thorough thought and clear goals. If you want AI and technology to be truly leveraged in your organization, you should take the time to both define your requirements and familiarize yourself with the technology. Before investing, it is essential to define in detail the activities for which the tool will be used and the results it is intended to achieve. The procuring entity needs to understand which processes can be automated using the tool. It is also important to consider how the technology can be integrated with existing systems and the quality and quantity of data required for the tool to operate effectively. It is essential to set realistic expectations of what AI tools can offer and to recognize that their functionality often requires customization and continuous development.

The adoption of technology often also requires a rethink of roles within the organization. For example, are experts able to act as the key user or user support, or does this require collaboration with the IT department? Who will handle communication and who will be responsible for training? To ensure successful technology adoption, it is worth taking the time to define roles and responsibilities.

AI solutions are not turnkey solutions. They are complex systems that require constant monitoring, maintenance, and upgrades to function optimally. This includes training staff to understand how AI works and to be able to manage the tools and evolve them to meet changing needs. It is also important to define clear requirements for AI tools, in terms of technical features, performance, security and compatibility.

AI is not a single technology, but a set of different methods. When deploying AI, it is important to understand that different technological solutions solve different problems. Comprehensive prior research and requirements definition will ensure that the AI solution purchased meets the needs and objectives of the organization. It is advisable to conduct pilot projects and tests prior to large-scale investments to assess the suitability of the tool and make necessary changes before full-scale deployment. This will ensure that AI tools deliver real value to the business and that their potential is fully exploited.

Fondia – your support in the adoption of technology and AI.

We are happy to guide your organization through the crosswinds of technology and help you overcome the challenges of exploiting new technologies. Both Fondia's data and AI team and our legal ops experts are here for you.

This article kicks off Fondia's AI adoption themed article series, which offers concrete recommendations on how companies can successfully navigate the AI adoption process. We will strive to cover the topic from several different angles, always as practical as possible.