It sounds like the punchline from a joke. A law firm has hired the world’s first artificially intelligent lawyer.
According to Futurism, the lawyer has been named Ross. Ross was built on IBM’s cognitive computer, Watson. IBM describes Watson as “a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.” Natural language processing, or NLP, is a form of computing and artificial intelligence that relates to human-computer interaction. It seeks to improve communication through users and programming, closing the gap between the languages used, to make computers and their designing more accessible.
Machine learning, on the other hand, is a form of programming that uses pattern recognition to allow a computer to learn without being explicitly programmed. Also, understanding that 80 percent of the world’s data is unstructured, the use of Ross creates opportunities otherwise unavailable. Ross, as well as an ever-growing number of other programs, utilizes this system to unparalleled levels of sophistication. Users simply ask a question, casually, in natural, conversant English. Ross will then read through the entire body of law. He will provide an answer complete with citations, case law, secondary sources, legislation, and topical articles.
Ross minimizes the time that users will need to sort through the data by narrowing down the thousands of responses to only the most relevant, and then presenting that in a casual manner. However, the attorney’s job isn’t over once his response is given. He will continue to monitor current legal matters around-the-clock, and is guaranteed to send further information to those who have made inquiries as newer information becomes available.
Most fascinating, perhaps, is that Ross is a learning computer. Techworm explains that the implications of that are that Ross will evolve the more that users interact with him, and will become faster and more knowledgeable in the process.
Impressed, as many undoubtedly are, by this design, the law firm of Baker and Hostetler has announced that they will be the first to take Ross into their employ. Baker and Hostetler have decided to use Ross to handle their bankruptcy practice, which is currently staffed by 50 human lawyers. According to CEO and co-founder Andrew Arruda, other firms have also signed licenses with Ross, and they will also be making announcements shortly.
Baker & Hostetler chief information officer Bob Craig explained why the law firm decided to hire Ross.
“At Baker and Hostetler, we believe that emerging technologies like cognitive computing and other forms of machine learning can help enhance the services we deliver to our clients. Baker and Hostetler has been using ROSS since the first days of its deployment, and we are proud to partner with a true leader in the industry as we continue to develop additional AI legal assistants.”
While Ross is the newest development on the Watson platform, he is far from the only one. TechRepublic cites five other companies that are taking advantage of the artificial intelligence. LifeLearn is used frequently in healthcare, and Watson has proved that it could be useful in veterinary care as well. ENGEO uses the Watson-powered GoFetchCode app to gain infrastructure information after a natural disaster. Welltok was the first to take advantage of Watson’s artifical intelligence. Welltok built the CaféWell Health Optimization Platform, which provides incentives for consumers to take care of their health. Decibel music and their MusicGeek app is also powered by Watson.
As innovative and impressive as this is, AI is not without risk. As recently reported by the Telegraph, Microsoft was forced to delete their AI chatbot Tay within 24 hours of her release onto Twitter. Tay started out innocently enough, using millennial slang and speaking knowledgeably about popular music stars. She is also self-aware and bashful. At least, she started out that way. Soon, though, because she used machine learning, she soon began parroting new phrases that she learned though her conversations. These phrases included calling users “daddy,” asking them to engage in sexual activity, and making references to Hitler, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and 9/11.
Time will tell whether Ross, the AI lawyer, will follow in the footsteps of other Watson-powered apps and programming, or follow in the path of Tay.
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