Katie Brown, Associate Dean for Information Resources at Charleston School of Law, opened the 16th annual Law & Society Symposium with some eye-popping numbers about the short history (and future) of Artificial Intelligence.

In her opening presentation on Friday, Brown told the near capacity audience that since AI’s public arrival in November 2018 ChatGPT has attracted 180 million users and 1.5 billion visits per month.

The growth of AI over its short history has generated a lot of eyeballs and billions of dollars in investment. According to Forbes 2024 Forecast, Generative AI Raised $50 billion in venture funding while Global AI spending expected to exceed $200 Billion+.

Still, questions and concerns linger over the new technology. In a recent survey conducted by LexisNexis, 35% of the participants stated they trusted generative AI technology for legal work while 25% said they agree (or strongly agree) that AI can be trusted in the legal industry.

According to Brown, despite the initial skepticism in the legal industry, AI is capable of bolstering firms’ efficiency, data collection and research in preparing for trial.

“Treat Gen AI like a knowledgeable legal assistant not a lawyer,” noted Brown.  “Use Gen AI for its knowledge and communication skills not legal opinions or reasoning. Remember, Gen AI does not think or reason, instead it learns with every interaction it has with a user.”

Brown reminded the audience that AI is a tool, not a replacement for legal preparation. AI offers a wealth of assistance in collecting research data but, as most AI users have discovered, there is still significant “bias, privacy, security, and other ethical issues” that accompany the results.

The annual Law & Society Symposium featured thought leaders in the legal, medical, technology and business sectors. The event is presented by the Charleston Law Review and the Riley Institute at Furman University.