Artificial Intelligence and Investigations – A Perfect Fit?

Jul 3, 2023

Artificial Intelligence is a term that’s been getting quite a bit of buzz lately. AI is in the news seemingly every day. It has so rapidly come into the consciousness of humans that it’s made many people feel a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). Some have already concluded it’s the latest and greatest. Still others view AI with consternation and have even made predictions of the end of humanity at the hands of this technology.

Along with these thoughts, ideas, predictions, and conclusions regarding AI, we all wonder how AI could potentially impact our respective jobs, occupations, professions, fields of study, etc. We at Advanced Professional Investigations have certainly given thought to AI’s potential impact on the investigative profession. After all, how great would it be if we as investigators could simply enter a specific question, search term or subject’s name into an AI program and have it provide an exhaustive amount of information that we can simply turn over to our clients? On the surface, that sounds like a win-win situation for investigators and clients alike. However, if the process becomes as simple as typing a search into an AI program and receiving the desired information in seconds or less, wouldn’t anyone be able to execute this procedure, without the need for a dedicated investigator? Suddenly the dedicated investigator would become obsolete, but the client would certainly be thrilled to do their own ‘investigation’.

Though the risk of becoming obsolete seemingly looms, the use of AI as an investigative tool should be examined. Our agency has criteria that any technology, technique, or equipment must meet before it’s introduced into our company. One of the criteria we consider is ethics. API is strongly connected with the investigative profession through its continuous involvement in state and national investigative associations. API’s owners are both past Presidents of the state association, and one of our owners is a past President and subsequent Chair of the national association. When discussing the topic of AI, the collective investigative community across the state and across the country will ultimately raise ethical considerations and establish ethical standards on the use of AI.

API will also consider the legality of AI. Every case that our agency accepts must have a legal purpose. Many of our cases will ultimately be introduced into a legal setting, and as a result our investigative results must withstand legal scrutiny. If the use of AI to produce investigative findings becomes illegal, or if it otherwise prevents the investigative findings to be used in legal settings, it will ultimately offer no benefit to the client.

Accuracy is a crucial consideration in the use of AI. While inaccuracy can certainly happen with humans, ultimately humans should be conscious of the responsibility and accountability they bear in producing accurate findings. When AI is used to produce and/or locate the information, it tends to remove the responsibility or accountability an investigator has in collecting and using that information. A lowered sense of accountability or responsibility combined with information that is inaccurate will lead to negative and even disastrous consequences. After all, AI will produce information that it THINKS you need, not what you may actually be seeking. Already, legal professionals have used AI generated information in legal settings, only to realize those findings be rendered inadmissible.

Cost-effectiveness is a consideration with any new piece of equipment, but also any technology or technique. Specialized equipment can easily cost thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars. Technology, in the form of subscription-based based databases and services can quickly become expensive. Even techniques can produce an up-front cost to the investigator if specialized training and course work is required. API closely assesses these costs, and artificial intelligence will need to be cost effective to be used in investigations, as that directly associates the cost to our clients.

Confidentiality is crucial in legal investigations. As a result, any technology, technique and/or piece of equipment must not compromise confidentiality. For investigators to be able to safely use AI, the technology will need to develop a track record of being resistant to breaches and compromises. The privacy of its users and searches must be safeguarded.

What does this mean for the use of artificial intelligence within API? Though it appears to be a promising investigative tool, we will treat artificial intelligence the same as we do any other technology, technique and/or piece of equipment. AI will need to satisfy our agency’s criteria of being ethical, legal, cost-effective, and confidential before it’s introduced in our investigations. Ultimately, we take great care in preventing liability for our clients, and artificial intelligence can create liability in its use.

Are there some types of AI that have already met those criteria for API? Absolutely. Google and other search engines use AI in their algorithms. Search engines, when used as a preliminary search tool, allow us as investigators to take a more targeted approach in locating, cross referencing and verifying information for its accuracy. You may be wondering if API has ever used generative AI. To date, API has not used generative AI, and has no plans to do so. We want our clients to have confidence that all of our content, whether it’s articles, blogs, website material, letters, brochures, etc. are all written by API’s owners and staff.

-Robert Orozco