Our friends at ROSS Intelligence have had some fantastic milestones this year. One of them was when a significant bankruptcy law firm "hired an Artificial Intelligent Lawyer" from ROSS. This press release caused some huge conversation online. Some of the comments, I take issue with, in short:
1. There was an unwarranted concern on how ROSS uptake would cause an issue with training lawyers.
2. There was a complete and utter misclassification of ROSS as a "Lawyer".
3. There was a poorly articulated reflection on how technology can assist in our day-to-day lives.
@ronfriedmann commented on the impact ROSS would have on training lawyers. Any lawyer over 35 probably went through the paper chase. We got a list of cases and other legal references, comments and judicial opinions. We then had to figure out how to use the library and manually track things down. The point, we don't do that anymore. With digital references WestLaw, Lexis Nexis, etc, finding information is just a computer away...not a paper-cut filled dance through case report books. There is no issue with ROSS impacting legal training. Simply, use the tools available and teach lawyers how to LAWYER. If they use the tools properly and are trained properly, the thinking will be what makes them succeed.
I take offence to ROSS being called an Artificial Intelligent Lawyer. This is dangerous for all companies like ROSS, Kira Systems, eBrevia, LegalRobot, and Beagle. In the truest sense of the definition of a lawyer, companies cannot claim to be lawyers, artificial or not. We all take innovative approaches to help people deal with a vast increase in the amount of data out there not to mention less and less times to process that detail. We are all PRODUCTIVITY tools. Companies are NOT Lawyers. Having the narrative focus on any reference to the term "Lawyer" is a distraction and does not deal with the issues. People (lawyers included) need technology to assist in how they assemble, consume and comprehend information. ROSS provides a fantastic tool, which is miles ahead of WestLaw or Lexis Nexis (and they were miles ahead of the paper chase).
I don't understand the problem.
Chris Sacca asked me what my regulatory concerns were as he was wondering about regulations as a hurdle to providing our service. We use AI to read contracts automatically and provide a feature rich collaboration platform to allow decisions makers to focus on fact and not fiction. "Read a contract automatically..." sends people into a frenzy. Regulation is not a barrier when tools like Beagle, ROSS and Kira Systems are used as technology assistance to their profession.
The problem is in the way people look at the tools when the focus should be how those tools are used. Bob Proctor in The Secret said it very well. He was describing electricity, "...you can cook a man's dinner with electricity...and you can also cook the man." How many of you look at electricity through an automatic doomsday lens of instant death? I think we can agree that number is zero. When looking at artificial intelligence and the law, look at it like electricity. It will yield great success like;
- access to justice
- improved comprehension for non-lawyers
- increased efficiency
- basic access to lawyers
If there are people that want to use the description or actual legal technology "artificial intelligence" for something that was not intended, that should be a rare exception, not the rule.
The Canadian Bar Association held a pitch competition, for which Beagle won in Ottawa at their annual conference. Once thing that came out of that conference was clear. Technology is not being used to its capacity in the delivery of legal services...and it should be. Technology does not replace or displace. In reality, it transforms.
With great power comes great responsibility...
This is for the provider of legal services and the users of technology.