As software gets smarter, computers are tackling increasingly complex tasks like beating world champions at games like Go and Jeopardy, driving cars, diagnosing complex diseases, and, yes, doing legal analysis of documents in lawsuits. Until recently we thought only humans could do these tasks. But all that is changing, and very soon, succeeding as an attorney will require learning how to work in the era of legal artificial intelligence.
I’m going to argue though, that, in the context of the legal world, there are new capabilities that really ARE new. And the essence is that a bunch of tasks that we used to think could only be done by a human lawyer (or paralegal, or legal secretary) can now — or can soon — be done by a computer.
I’ve developed the acronym ANDROID to help organize our understanding of what these developments mean for the legal world.
ANDROID legal minds:
A – are ALGORITHMIC, i.e. using the latest software that get more powerful every day
N – use NATURAL language processing, aka text mining to process complex documents
D – are, by human standards, incredibly DILIGENT, meaning that they can get through millions of documents without taking breaks, falling asleep, or going on vacation
R – are RELIABLE, meaning that they give consistent, accurate resultsO – use OBSERVATIONAL learning methods, meaning that they can learn by imitating how human attorneys work rather than being explicitly programmed
I – are now making decisions that were once thought to require INDEPENDENT (human) professional judgment
D – can make fine DISTINCTIONS, i.e. between documents that are more or less relevant
I’ll say more about each of these in upcoming posts.