Originally published in New Law Journal, February 19, 2016
Get A Grip
From AI to smart apps: lawyers must forget about the terminology & focus on the bigger pictures, says Neota Logic’s Greg Wildisen.
On reflection, 2015 was the year of the birth of artificial intelligence (AI) in law. Some may argue AI received a little too much airplay, especially for those lawyers still undecided about the “robots taking over legal jobs” debate. So much so that some writers are already suggesting the term AI cease being used as it causes confusion. If AI is not the right term, what is?
Broadly speaking, AI is the theory and development of computer systems, which will perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. It’s a broad field ranging from face recognition, through machine learning, to robotics. Robotics arguably has little relevance in law, but certainly there is huge potential for machine learning, legal algorithms, and digital advisers amongst others.
Historically the term “expert systems” was used to describe much of what is known as AI today. But due to the lack of success of these systems in the late 1980’s and 90’s, there is a lacklustre uptake of the so-called “secondgeneration expert systems” tag.
Within law, Ryan McLead of 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, takes the position that really what we are talking about is “augmented human intelligence”, preferring the term “automation” to AI (www.geeklawblog.com). Not that AI can’t exist in law, but rather that the predominant use of AI in law is automation, and on that basis, let’s just call it that. Simple and sensible.
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