The Next Level of GenAI - GPT-4o and Project Astra

By Mary Warner posted 05-28-2024 07:30 AM


Developments in the field of generative AI (GenAI) continue at a galloping pace. There have been some major developments in the past few weeks that bear mentioning now (rather than in an annual round-up of AI news) because they may have a significant impact on legal tech and the law.

OpenAI’s GPT-4o

On May 13, 2024, OpenAI announced the release of GPT-4o. The ‘o’ stands for ‘omni,’ with this GPT operating with very fast multimodal capabilities. That means it can respond to text, voice, video, and images at a speed that is comparable to human response times.

The best way to understand what GPT-4o does is to watch some of OpenAI’s demo videos, in which people ask the AI various questions and the AI carries on a conversation with them.

Check out the demos here:

While watching the videos, pay attention to the AI’s female voice. There’s a legal issue brewing there that I’ll come back to later in this article.

Due to GPT-4o’s incredible capabilities, it is quickly being adopted. Gavel, one of MSBA’s Advantage Partners, just folded GPT-4o into its document automation platform. For more info on that integration, visit

Google’s Project Astra

Trying not to be outdone by OpenAI, Google revealed on May 14, 2024, at the Google I/O event that it is working on its own responsive, multimodal AI agent through Project Astra. This is still under development, but you can see some demos here:

For more background info on Project Astra, check out this article:

Legal Issues Around GPT-4o’s ‘Sky’ Voice

 In OpenAI’s GPT-4o demo videos, the AI has a distinct, flirty, female voice, so distinct that people have assumed it belongs to the actor Scarlett Johansson. OpenAI calls the voice ‘Sky’.

After the release of GPT-40, Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, posted the word ‘her’ on X, a reference to the 2013 movie, “Her,” starring Joaquin Phoenix, who plays Theodore Twombly, a lonely man who falls in love with an operating system named Samantha that is voiced by Scarlett Johansson. The movie is one of Altman’s favorites, and the operating system in it behaves in a similar way to what can be seen in the GPT-4o demos.

Johanson was, in fact, asked if she would allow the use of her voice for the AI and said no. The ‘Sky’ voice was removed after Johansson took legal action. More from the BBC:

Cat Casey, chief growth officer for the AI-powered e-discovery technology Reveal, has written a thoughtful article at that examines the societal implications of making AI agents better than humans. (You may need to sign up for an account to read this, but it’s free to do so.)

What AI will do to Google Search

As Google rolls out AI-generated answers to search queries, delivering summaries from content across the web, rather than offering up websites people can use to find the information they seek, content creators are going to have trouble getting visitors to their sites.

According to Bruce Schneier of the Schneier on Security blog, “A less obvious but even darker problem will also result from this shift. SEO will morph into LLMO: large-language-model optimization, the incipient industry of manipulating AI-generated material to serve clients’ interests." In other words, AI-generated search will be more about the advertisers than those doing the searching.

Here is Schneier’s analysis of what will happen to Google Search after AI is unleashed on it:

Ah, but someone at Google has created a work-around that will provide the old-style, non-AI search results. I’ve tried this and it works!

And someone else has already created a page that allows you to use this search work-around without having to type it into the search bar. If you make this your default home page, it will be at your fingertips when needed: 

New AI Terms

A couple of new terms have cropped up in the field of GenAI.

Model disgorgement – methods of getting rid of bad data in a model

Slop – AI-generated garbage (scroll down)

Clio’s Report on AI adoption by Lawyers

Bob Ambrogi summarizes Clio’s latest report on AI adoption by lawyers.

Choosing New Tech for Your Practice

While it can be tempting to adopt the latest tech, like generative AI, for your law practice, being methodical about the process is the best bet for long-term success. This article covers a strategic process for adopting legal tech.