Monday, June 6, 2016

My Lawyer is Artificially Intelligent

I’ve been blogging for quite a while on the socio-economic-political changes that face humanity, definitely including the U.S. from the seepage of artificial intelligence (AI) into the work world. Increasing numbers of skilled jobs – even high-level medical, legal and engineering design services – will be handed to robots and computers driven by high-functional capacity computing power based on self-learning AI devices. You can look back at these entries, including my March 25th Universal Basic Income (“UBI”) and my February 1st Well-Educated Professionals and Automation blogs for lots of supporting data.
Well, there’s an experiment afoot in the bankruptcy department of one of America’s largest and most prestigious law firms, Baker & Hostetler with almost 1,000 attorneys. “Baker & Hostetler is the first law firm to announce that it will use a ground-breaking artificial intelligence product for legal research.
“The law firm will license Ross Intelligence [see below] in its bankruptcy practice, report the Am Law Daily (sub. req.) and a press release. The research product uses IBM’s Watson technology, which is designed to get smarter as it is used.
“Ross responds to lawyers’ questions in natural language by reading through the law, gathering evidence and drawing inferences. The program learns from the lawyers who use it to refine its search results. It also monitors the law and notifies users of new, relevant court decisions.” ABA Bar Journal, May 9th. Plug in the new associate and watch him have “lunch.”
On its website, Ross Intelligence, claims it is reinventing legal research: “ROSS is an artificially intelligent attorney to help you power through legal research. ROSS improves upon existing alternatives by actually understanding your questions in natural sentences like – ‘Can a bankrupt company still conduct business?’
“ROSS then provides you an instant answer with citations and suggests highly topical readings from a variety of content sources… ROSS is built upon Watson, IBM's cognitive computer. Almost all of the legal information that you rely on is unstructured data—it is in the form of text, and not neatly situated in the rows and columns of a database. Watson is able to mine facts and conclusions from over a billion of these text documents a second. Meanwhile, existing solutions rely on search technologies that simply find keywords.
“So what can ROSS do?
·         “Provide you a highly relevant answer, not 1000s of results, to your question posed in natural language, not keywords.
·         “Monitor the law for changes that can positively/negatively affect your case, instead of flooding you with legal news.
·         “Learn the more you and other lawyers use it.
·         “Offer a simple, consistent experience across all your devices and form factors.” Does it bill hourly or take a percentage of the transactions or litigation it services? Do you really want to encourage your children to go to law school? How long before legal research morphs into document and pleading drafting? Virtual courtroom appearances? What other highly-skilled jobs will move to electronic replacements? And when?
I’m Peter Dekom, and this is something you can think about as you sit in your driverless car.

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