The Legal Implications are Not My First Concern

home aloneWhenever I look at a new product, business model or technology, the legal implications are never my first concern. I prefer to focus on whether there is a viable business model, whether we can actually deliver the product or service, and how end users will feel about the product or services.

This short article lists the main legal implications of using Artificial Intelligence:

  • Personal Data
  • IP
  • Liablity

To be honest, for us who are working with these issues every day, this article isn’t particularly informative. Whether we’re talking about AI, Blockchain, Biometrics or some other new service, I would argue that I am much less concerned about those issues than the article is, mainly because I work with very capable privacy and IP specialists and know that both of those issues can be addressed in the product’s design and contract drafting.

For privacy what is very important, is not so much the law, but that if your product involves processing personal data, that the end users’ interests are at the heart of the design (ie, what is called privacy by design).

With regards to liability, we will have worked closely with the business to define our risk profile, factoring it into the business case and then reflecting that in the liability clauses. In other words, the liabilities and indemnities clauses will look pretty much the same as they do in any other IT supply agreement.

What I will be most concerned about is reputation. Will our service actually work? Will end users whose data is being processed through our service feel comfortable with their data being used? Assuming we have leverage, we can draft circles around our contractual risk to protect our intellectual property, limit our liability in case of our service failure, and define our privacy obligations. But what happens if our service doesn’t meet up to expectations or if users find it creepy? Will anyone want to contract with us in the future?

That’s reputation, pure and simple. And nothing you draft in a contract is going to save a bad reputation. So first figure out if you can deliver, put the end user at the center of the product architecture, get your business case in order, and then you can do the easy part which is to put together the contract.

Ten Things: Making Legal the Department of Yes

My boss just recommended that I check out the Ten Things You Need to Know as In-House Counsel blog, written by Sterling Miller who is a General Counsel with over 25 years in-house experience. I am not from the West Coast, so I don’t use “awesome” lightly, and this blog is “awesome”.

So far my favorite post (which I immediately shared with my own team) was his “Ten Things: Making Legal the Department of Yes“.  My team has, without making a list and without knowing that such a list existed, consciously made an effort to implement each of those recommendations. We started this two years ago and have largely succeed, but it is very important to go back, remind ourselves what we are doing and refresh our efforts.

Why the Entrepre-Lawyer Blog?

Monk Underground 2Twenty years ago this year, I earned my Juris Doctorate and then took and passed the New York bar exam. Since then I have worked in a variety of fields, capacities, and with all sorts of talented people. I have worked as a lawyer and on the business side. During a large chunk of that time, I have drafted and negotiated lots and lots of contracts, and to be quite frank, at this time in my career arguing a liability clause or typing “for avoidance of doubt” or “including without limitation” or “arising out of or in connection with” or “which shall not be unreasonably withheld” are not what get me out of bed in the morning.

What does get me up in the morning is being part of the action, helping to find solutions and identifying new opportunities. In other words, I love playing the part of lawyer as business partner. But in order to be an effective business partner, you need to know your client’s business and you need to be in the loop.

With that in mind, in my current role as Senior Legal Counsel at Amadeus IT Group, I have assumed the leadership of a virtual team called “Tech Watch” where my colleagues and I in the legal department discuss and monitor new technologies and innovation in order to be better business partners. In doing this, we have also sparked an increased interest in following the trends in our marketplace (and of course, one of the most important things about being good at what one does professionally is enjoying the subject matter of one’s work).

IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT NOTHING THAT I PUBLISH IN THIS BLOG REFLECTS THE VIEWS OR OPINIONS OF AMADEUS IT GROUP. ALL VIEWS ARE MY OWN. THIS BLOG IS NOT ABOUT AMADEUS AND CERTAINLY NOT ABOUT GDSs.

In particular, I have been looking a lot at Blockchain, Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence and how user generated data can be used both for our benefit and our detriment. There is already so much about Blockchain, for example, as it applies to Fintech but not in relation to other use cases, so I seek out news on these topics in different contexts. With this blog I hope to share some of what I find. Sometimes I will simply re-post articles that I think are interesting for those who wish to learn more, and other times I will write about my own impressions about how these technologies may shape the market, the law or society.

Finally, this blog is not exclusive to lawyers and isn’t focused on legislation or regulation. Its main link to the legal profession is that its author is a lawyer who believes that lawyers should be better acquainted with new technologies in order to be more effective entrepre-lawyers and business partners.