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It has been barely a year since generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI) entered the mainstream, and since then, it has swiftly and comprehensively captured the imaginations of business leaders and the public like no other emerging technology till date. Companies realise that if they don’t get on board now, they risk getting left behind.

 

It’s hard to imagine that ChatGPT, the technology that kicked off the current AI boom, was only unveiled to the public in November 2022. Since that time, it has garnered hundreds of millions of users, and companies around the world have been looking to the technology to enhance productivity, free up employees for high-value tasks, and lower costs.

A recent survey done by Accenture of 2,300 global leaders found that 97 percent of respondents feel Gen AI “will be transformative for their company and their industry”. Another strategy firm, Oliver Wyman, estimates that Gen AI will add US$20 trillion to global GDP by 2030 and save 300 billion work hours a year.

This is unprecedented, in that no other technology has had a transformative effect like Gen AI has. And companies across a wide range of industries have begun to embrace it as they look to improve productivity and gain a competitive advantage. Among these are companies in some of the most regulated industries, including financial services and professional services.

While Gen AI does raise risks if not adopted and implemented with some care, early adopters report that these risks are well-managed through controls like customised tools within secure enterprise environments, stringent verification of AI outputs with human super-vision, and continuous staff training on responsible AI practices.

In this special feature, thought leaders in some of Asia’s most well-known companies share their experiences with Gen AI till date, the steps they’ve taken to mitigate risks, and how the new technology has begun to transform their work like never before.

 

JOHN KOSHY
Head of Group Legal Affairs, Jardine Matheson Limited

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How has Jardine Matheson leveraged AI technology, and what benefits has it brought to your legal and compliance work?

Jardines has taken an active but careful approach to Gen AI. We are committed to its responsible, ethical use. We have been building capability, knowledge, and central support to explore use cases. We have also developed policies on utilising Gen AI tools and properly safeguarding our data. The Group has built internal expertise through hackathons, developing Proof of Concepts, and assessing risk and impact.

Our legal team spearheaded Gen AI testing. In spring 2023, we partnered with the University of Hong Kong’s Law, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship Lab (LITE Lab) to work with LITE Lab students to identify productivity gains, streamlining routine tasks like summarising contracts, translation, and drafting. Jardines is exploring this technology through iterative implementation and risk management.

Can you share some recent AI initiatives at Jardines? How is Gen AI changing daily legal work?

In 2023, Jardines hosted a series of events and activities introducing employees to Gen AI. They revealed its potential and surfaced areas of concern. Gen AI is a game-changer for the legal industry. It enhances what lawyers do, freeing time for higher-value tasks.

In November, LITE Lab’s Founding Executive Director Brian Tang and I led an interactive workshop in Bangkok for 70-plus Jardines lawyers across Jardines’ different business units. We wanted them to experience first-hand Gen AI’s potential and limitations. For many, it was their first exposure.

With Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI GPT-4 model and support from Innovate Jardines (Jardines’ innovation and technology team), we created hands-on exercises and reflections to spark brainstorming and C-suite deliverables.

The enthusiastic feedback highlighted untapped potential across industries and jurisdictions. While AI augments work, it doesn’t replace our lawyers’ rich experience and deep-seated corporate knowledge. Responsibly exploring this shift offers an exciting opportunity.

How does your legal team help identify, manage and mitigate legal/regulatory risks from Jardines’ AI initiatives?

We worked with Innovate Jardines to develop an acceptable use policy for Gen AI. This involved defining risks and limitations and outlining mitigation tactics. Partnering with Microsoft, Jardines deployed a private ChatGPT instance for internal use only. Importantly, this addressed security and confidentiality needs. We also launched Gen AI awareness training for employees.

What key factors does Jardines consider when selecting AI solution providers?

Rigorous due diligence is conducted from commercial, cybersecurity, operational and legal standpoints, depending on how and when the technology may be deployed. Ensuring compliance with privacy laws is paramount if AI involves customer interactions. Overall, appropriate controls must be designed for any new solution from the get-go.

 

AARON BLEASDALE
Managing Associate General Counsel, Data Legal, Asia-Pacific, HSBC

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How has Gen AI impacted financial services processes or decision-making based on your experiences?

HSBC has used AI for over a decade to enhance customer experience, detect financial crime and improve decision-making. Through broader data analysis and Gen AI’s ability to “understand” language and generate human-like text, it can help firms better navigate complex internal policies and procedures. We are cautiously exploring Gen AI opportunities. It may assist our colleagues in better supporting customers and working more efficiently.

We are researching use cases and building a Group-wide strategy. Several internal prototypes are underway. Partnering with major tech companies like Microsoft, OpenAI and GitHub enhances our understanding of AI platforms and tools. Gen AI is also being integrated into our products and services to benefit customers, including our AI Global Opportunities (AiGO8) index and AI Markets.

As someone overseeing both legal services and technology, how have you collaborated with technology teams to integrate Gen AI into legal work?

Our AI Legal Innovation Group assesses potential AI use cases for legal operations. Our approach focuses on three key areas: increasing efficiency, reducing risk and enhancing compliance. We’re developing an internal business-facing chatbot to answer common legal questions and direct users to the right lawyers.

We are exploring tools that help with retrieving information and performing drafting, regulatory review and even research. Computers excel at understanding and using human language but require oversight. Whilst potential is huge, safe and responsible deployment is key.

Our planned applications focus on augmenting lawyers' capabilities rather than replacing them. The human lawyers will remain in the driver’s seat and be accountable for their output. A lawyer who is fully aware of a Gen AI’s capabilities and limitations can wield its power effectively. It’s not just about automating tasks, but augmenting legal expertise using Gen AI. By collaborating with the bank’s technology team, strategic technology partners, partner law firms and alternative legal service providers, we can harness the power of AI to transform our operations for enhanced client service.

Looking forward, what key trends do you foresee in the use of Gen AI within the financial services industry, and what advice would you offer to legal and compliance leaders considering investment/expansion of Gen AI capabilities?

The use of Gen AI will continue increasing across the financial services industry. We’ll see more applications for activities like coding, information management, data analysis, marketing, and customer interactions. This will help deliver more tailored products and services to customers, and generate more insightful analytics to facilitate better and quicker decision-making. By combining HSBC’s scale and stability with the mindset of a tech start-up, we can nurture new ideas, drive innovation, and transform the future of banking.

As Gen AI adoption expands, customers will demand greater transparency into how their data is processed. Organisations must have the ability to explain automated decision-making processes and accommodate customer requests to opt out of certain applications, as many privacy laws require. Education is key. All employees, from frontline staff to board-level executives, need to understand fundamental AI rights and obligations.

In the legal field, Gen AI tools will increasingly supplement lawyers’ work over the coming years. Early use cases are likely to focus more on boosting productivity than fully automating legal advice. The benefits of Gen AI should convince more to explore new ways of working.

 

CARL LI
Lead Innovation Lawyer - Asia, Linklaters

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Can you provide an overview of Linklaters’ Gen AI journey and its impact on legal workflow?

Linklaters has a long history of embracing new technologies to reflect our commitment to innovation and improving operational efficiency. A milestone is introducing our Gen AI chatbot Laila, built using Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service.

We work closely with Microsoft to enable our people to maximise productivity. Laila streamlines tasks while keeping prompts and responses within our controlled environment, maintaining confidentiality and security. Thousands of users handle numerous daily queries through this handy tool. Gen AI has created impact by overcoming the “blank-page syndrome”, changing how we draft cover emails, for example.

Translation is another area where Gen AI helps. For instance, you can describe context to Laila and enable better translation across languages in the large cross-border deals that we typically work on.

Gen AI is boosting productivity while our lawyers stand as the gatekeepers of quality and accuracy. We only use enterprise-grade Al assessed as safe, value-adding, and in line with our values and regulatory obligations.

As Linklaters’ Innovation Lawyer in Asia, did you wit-ness challenges implementing Gen AI, and how were they addressed?

One challenge is Gen AI producing plausible but incorrect “hallucinations”. Lawyers must verify AI-generated content against reliable sources to ensure accuracy. There is a need to maintain a critical eye rather than blindly trust. Nevertheless, investing time and resources in experimenting with Gen AI helps us stay informed on the latest advancements.

In terms of client interactions, how has Gen AI influenced the delivery of legal services at Linklaters? Have clients seen enhanced responsiveness, accuracy, or other benefits?

It’s still too early to evaluate Gen AI’s impact. But we believe it can increase our efficiency. We are taking a tailored approach that adheres to the highest professional standards while meeting clients’ specific requirements.

For example, Gen AI can unlock Linklaters’ vast global knowledge and expertise. You may experience faster turnarounds, enhanced responsiveness and a more personalised experience.

What insights can you share with other law firms exploring AI integration? What are some best practices to keep in mind?

Building trust where team members freely share AI experiences is essential for successful adoption. Trust drives innovation. Promoting internal knowledge-sharing on Gen AI applications deepens collective understanding and spurs innovation.

Appointing “innovation lawyers” as AI champions within teams advocates for best practices and practical guidance. They support responsible and effective AI use by keeping colleagues informed on developments. It ensures responsible use and manages risks through clear protocols.

How do you see the role of Gen AI evolving in Asia’s legal industry? What emerging trends or developments should law firms consider as they explore AI solutions?

Gen AI is poised to advance rapidly in Asia’s legal sector. A notable development is Microsoft Copilot, which shows promise in drafting emails, summarising content, and conducting data analysis. Its integration within Microsoft 365 can simplify AI adoption within legal work.

AI tools that integrate consistently across work applications help minimise learning curves, ensure smooth adoption and deliver a unified experience. In addition, law firms can explore AI with the assurance that confidentiality and compliance are priorities.

As part of integrating AI, it is crucial to allocate time for learning, feedback, testing and structured evaluations. Striking the right balance between innovation and a commitment to quality is central to successfully adopting Gen AI in the legal industry.

 

AMY LEE
Chief Legal Director, Hong Kong, Microsoft

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Can you share how Microsoft’s legal team uses Gen AI in its daily work and operations?

Our team (known as the Corporate, External and Legal Affairs, or CELA, team) has been identified by the company as one of the very first teams to use Gen AI technology. Our 2,000+ legal, policy and government affairs professionals globally have started using Copilot for Microsoft 365 since around October last year. Our colleagues find the tool very useful, greatly enhancing our work efficiency and quality, so that we may focus our time on higher-impact work. For example, if we miss a conference call when we have a time conflict, Copilot may summarize the call and action items for us. Some other cool use cases that I enjoy include having Copilot to summarize long email threads, and to turn a Word document into a PowerPoint presentation.

In addition to using Copilot in our daily work, we have a global initiative in which we invite our CELA colleagues to submit ideas on Gen AI applications for our team, to be built on Azure OpenAI services. We received an overwhelming response, with over 250 ideas submitted around the three key themes of “advise, transact and comply”. It is really exciting to see how some of the ideas are implemented and we may start using these new applications now.

Are customers embracing the new technology, and what are their primary considerations in adopting Gen AI technology?

Today, over 85 percent of Fortune 100 companies, including customers in highly regulated industries such as the financial services industry, are using Microsoft’s AI services. From our conversations with customers, most of them indicate that they are more excited than concerned about the use of AI.

We understand that Gen AI technology brings up a lot of questions and concerns along with its potential, and we maintain regular dialogue with our customers to support their AI adoption journey. We are actively advocating for responsible AI and remain dedicated to collaborating with our customers to address prevalent concerns, including data privacy and security, output quality and potential distortions, responsible AI usage to prevent bias, and to ensure transparency and fairness. We would share feedback from customers and regulators with our headquarters, with the objective of facilitating our customers’ use of the technology in a legal, compliant, and responsible way.

 

WINNIE YEUNG
Chief Legal Counsel, Greater China Region, Microsoft

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Can you outline Microsoft’s vision for AI and how Microsoft ensures its customers can harness the power of AI safely and responsibly?

AI is the defining technology of our time and has the ability to reshape how we work, learn and play. As technology advances rapidly, Microsoft recognizes the crucial need to balance the benefits of AI with responsible control, addressing the ethical and legal considerations related to AI technologies.

Microsoft’s responsible AI work started in 2016. Throughout the years, we have implemented Responsible AI by Design, to guide how we develop and deploy AI. We closely adhere to our six AI principles – reliability & safety, privacy & security, inclusiveness, fairness, transparency and accountability – and constantly improve engineering and governance systems to put these principles into practice. We are fully committed to building trusted and transparent AI systems to benefit our customers and the society as a whole.

To empower our customers to harness the power of Gen AI, Microsoft announced a set of AI Customer Commitments (AICC) in June last year. The AICC include (1) sharing our learnings about developing and deploying AI responsibly (including our Responsible AI Standard, AI Impact Assessment Template and Guide, and Transparency Notes, which are all available for download in our Responsible AI website1); (2) creating an AI Assurance Program (including regulator engagement support, risk framework implementation, customer councils and regulatory advocacy) to help customers meet the legal and regulatory requirements for responsible AI; and (3) supporting customers with dedicated resources and partner support as they implement AI responsibly.

Building further on the AICC, starting from September 2023, we offer Customer Copyright Commitment (CCC) to our paid commercial customers using Copilot to address their concerns about copyright infringement. We extended the CCC coverage to include Azure OpenAI customers in November. In simple terms, if a third party sues a paid commercial customer for copyright infringement for our Copilot/Azure OpenAI enterprise services or the output they generate, we will defend the customer and pay the amount of any adverse judgments or settlements resulting from the lawsuit. This is, however, contingent upon the customer taking certain action from their end, like using the guardrails and content filters built into our products and not intentionally infringing third-party rights. We firmly believe that this shared-responsibility approach will allow our customers to explore the possibilities brought by Gen AI with even more confidence.

Our Chairman and CEO, Satya Nadella, commented that “We’ve moved from talking about AI to applying AI at scale”. We already see AI rapidly transforming work for organizations across the world and acting as a powerful tool for driving new benefits and productivity gains in every sector. We are super excited about the Gen AI technology and can’t wait to collaborate with our customers on their AI transformation journey.

 

 

 

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