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The Landscape of AI Regulation in the Asia-Pacific

Reading time: 32 minutes

Written by Alistair Simmons and Matthew Rostick | Edited by Josh Lee Kok Thong

Introduction

In recent months, many jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific (“APAC”) have adopted or are considering various forms of AI governance mechanisms. At least 16 jurisdictions in APAC have begun some form of AI governance, and this number will likely continue to increase. This paper scans the different AI governance mechanisms across a number of APAC jurisdictions and offers some observations at the end. 

This paper segments AI governance mechanisms into four categories: Direct AI regulations are enforceable rules that regulate the development, deployment or use of AI directly as a technology, and consequently have regulatory impact across multiple sectors. Voluntary frameworks cover voluntary and non-binding guidance issued by governmental entities that directly address the development, deployment or use of AI as a technology. Indirect regulations (data & IP) are also enforceable legal rules but do not regulate the development, deployment or use of AI directly as a technology. They are rules of more general applicability that nevertheless have an impact on the development, deployment or use of AI. As the scope of this category is potentially broad, we have focused on data protection/privacy and intellectual property laws in this paper. Sector-specific measures refers to binding and non-binding rules and guidelines issued by sector regulators that are relevant to the development, deployment or use of AI in an industry. To avoid getting bogged down in the specifics of whether the rules and guidelines are technically binding or not, we have presented them together. Unlike the mechanisms addressed in the Sectoral Governance Mechanisms segment, the non-binding frameworks in this segment typically address the use of AI across multiple sectors.

For avoidance of doubt, this paper addresses legal governance mechanisms only. There may be other initiatives afoot to drive alignment and good practices from a technical perspective. We do not seek to address technical measures in this paper.

TechLaw.Fest 2023: This Is What’s Next

Reading time: 12 minutes

By Hannah Loo Yuet Ying and Leong Tzi An (Zaine) | Edited by Josh Lee Kok Thong

The theme of this year’s TechLaw.Fest is ‘This is What’s Next”’. I thought this is very apt in the realm of law and technology. Both are forward-looking, and multi-faceted that we constantly, even in practice, ask ourselves ‘what’s next’.

Second Minister for Law and Minister for Community, Culture and Youth Edwin Tong S.C.
Opening Remarks at TechLaw.Fest 2023

Introduction

Since the last edition of TechLaw.Fest in 2022, technology has developed at a rapid pace. It is now trite to say that technology touches every aspect of our lives. It has transformed, and continues to transform, how people work, interact and, play. This is not only embodied in the rise of large language models (“LLMs”) and generative AI applications such as ChatGPT, but also questions about the future of cryptocurrency, immersive technologies, and online safety. Amidst rapid technological developments on multiple fronts, it is important to have robust conversations on the workings of these technologies and their impact – positive or negative – on people and society. 

As one of Asia’s largest law and technology conferences, TechLaw.Fest is an important forum bringing together industry leaders, government, legal professionals, technologists, academics, and civil society to have these robust conversations. As the first fully physical rendition of the event since 2019, TechLaw.Fest 2023 brought together thought leaders from various domains to answer “what’s next” in the vast field of law and technology. This article aims to bring a glimpse into the key insights and themes discussed across both days of Singapore’s signature law and technology conference.

An Interview with Professor David B. Wilkins, Lester Kissel Professor of Law, Vice Dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession, Faculty Director of the Center on the Legal Profession, Harvard Law School

Reading time: 9 minutes

Written by Josh Lee Kok Thong

On 3 and 4 August 2023, the Singapore Academy of Law (“SAL”), in conjunction with the Singapore Management University (“SMU”), organized a conference titled “The Next Frontier in Lawyering: From ESG to GPT”. The conference provided participants with an overview of latest trends in the legal industry, and how these trends posed opportunities and challenges for lawyers and legal professionals. Held at the SMU Yong Pung How School of Law (“SMUYPHSOL”), the conference saw hundreds of attendees learn from global and local legal industry leaders about cutting-edge developments in the legal industry.

One of these global leaders and giants was Professor David B. Wilkins. As Lester Kissel Professor of Law, Vice Dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession, and Faculty Director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School, Professor Wilkins is a prominent thought leader and speaker on the future of the legal profession, disruptive innovation, and legal industry leadership. He has written over 80 articles on the legal profession in leading scholarly journals and the popular press, and teaches several courses at Harvard Law School such as The Legal Profession, and Challenges of a General Counsel. 

At the conference, Professor Wilkins delivered a keynote address titled “From “Law’s Empire” to “Integrated Solutions”: How Globalization, Technology, and Organizational Change Are Opening “New Frontiers” for Lawyers, Clients and Society”. His address covered how law is becoming a more collaborative enterprise (with other knowledge domains) in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. While law would remain a domain driven by human capital, Professor Wilkins also urged lawyers to learn how to work with and understand technology. At the conference, Professor Wilkins also moderated a discussion on “Technology and the Legal Profession”, which explored how new technologies are transforming how lawyers work and interact with clients. 

Following his keynote address, LawTech.Asia (“LTA”) had the valuable opportunity of chatting with Professor Wilkins on his views on the opportunities and impact of technology on the legal industry, the training of future lawyers, how Singapore could strengthen its legal innovation ecosystem, and how legal technology could be better oriented to serve the underserved and under-represented in society. The interview, which is set out below, has only been edited for readability and brevity. 

Eugene, Jun Hong and Alexis: Are law schools preparing students for a tech-driven world? 

Reading time: 7 minutes

Written by Eugene Yan, Yap Jun Hong and Alexis Chun | Edited by Josh Lee Kok Thong

Conversations from the 17th International Conference on Substantive Technology in Legal Education and Practice, held in Singapore in July 2022

In July 2022, SMU Centre for Computational Law (“CCLAW“) hosted the 17th International Conference on Substantive Technology in Legal Education and Practice (“SubTech2022”). The theme for this edition was “Training lawyers (and computers) in the age of Computational Law”, and it explored how legal education, legal practice, and society at large could be supported and improved with the use of technology. Unlike most traditional conferences, SubTech2022 followed an “unconference” format where attendees also had a say in the agenda. To facilitate this, multiple “Birds of a Feather” sessions were held throughout the day, each with its own topic statement which was contributed to by participants.

This article distills the conversations which took place during SubTech2022 on the question of “Are law schools preparing students for a tech-driven world?

Third ALITA Awards at TechLaw.Fest in Singapore on 21 – 22 September 2023

Reading time: < 1 minute

Nominations for the 3rd ALITA Awards 2023 are now open, and the winners will once again be announced and presented at TechLawFest, Asia’s leading and tech conference. TechLaw.Fest 2023 will take place at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre on 21 and 22 September 2023.

The ALITA Awards were launched by the Asia Pacific Legal Innovation & Technology Association to give voice and recognition to outstanding legal innovators across the Asia-Pacific legal technology and legal innovation ecosystem. 

This year, there will be 6 legal innovator categories, with a new award for outstanding in-house and operations innovators.  This will add to the existing awards for outstanding legal innovator law firm, solution provider and legal entrant organisations, as well as an outstanding individual and legal innovation / technology project for good. 

As in the past, the three finalists from each category selected by the esteemed panel of international judges will be featured at TechLawFest and will be eligible for the People’s Choice Award based on a popular online vote. 

Past nominations and winners have been legal innovators from across the region, including Australia, Hong Kong SAR, India and Singapore.

Nominations close at midnight on 25 August 2023 (GMT+8). For more details on the ALITA Awards and the nomination form, please visit: https://alita.legal/alita-awards-2023.

For more information (including sponsorship opportunities), please contact ALITA Co-chairs:

This article was adapted from a press release provided by the Asia-Pacific Legal Innovation and Technology Association.

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