Artificial Intelligence


Will expert systems disrupt the legal value chain?


In the first installment of this book review series on AI (Post 232), I argued that AI will not reduce employment in the legal sector, and in fact, the extensive deployment of AI tools might well increase total legal employment significantly. In the second installment (Post 237), I reviewed a children’s board book, considered weaponized ostriches, and concluded that AI tools are powerful complements to human lawyers but will not soon replace many – or perhaps any – of them.

In both pieces, the point is that AI – while very cool and very powerful – is also just a labor-saving device like anything else.  AI should extend the reach of legal services to a broader audience, and there is little to suggest that AI will reduce employment in the legal sector overall.

This is not to say that AI will leave the legal market’s very settled pecking orders undisturbed.  AI turns a service into a product, and that can have powerfully disruptive effects in an industry.
Continue Reading “My new Volvo is a Mazda”: Part III of book review series on AI in law (250)


Examining the gap between what machines do and what lawyers do.


A shiver of lawyers reading books is, perhaps, like a school of fish swimming: the fish don’t know the water is wet, and likewise, the lawyers, who may deeply consider what they are reading, will rarely stop to consider what reading is. But because reading is so important to the law, and one of the key capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) is its growing ability to work with text, it’s worth a moment to pause and consider: what are we doing when we read?
Continue Reading Did Robbie the Robot really learn to read? (book review) (237)


An early example of where things are headed.


In Post 228, Paula Doyle, Chief Legal Innovation Officer at the World Commerce and Contracting Association (WorldCC), made the claim that inefficiencies in the current commercial contracting process likely cost the global economy more than $1 trillion annually. We reach this figure by adding up the massive second-order effects caused by excessive contract complexity and poor process:
Continue Reading Case study: impact of AI and Big Data on low-risk contract negotiations (236)


Lawyers are trained to be good at what machines can’t do.


Will the world still need lawyers once AI gets really good?

The short answer is yes—and I believe it will still be yes no matter how good AI gets.  My view is not universally accepted, so I will need to lay it out, and that will involve some claims about what humans are and whether a machine can ever be like that.  This will shed considerable light on what lawyers essentially do, and help us to see how machines can help us to be better lawyers.
Continue Reading Legal’s AI rocket ship will be manned (book review) (232)