Your poker face may be more important than you imagine. Or maybe its useless.

Over the past few months I have posted several stories about advances in AI facial recognition. Subjects have included:

– Pornhub identifying “stars.”

– AI seeing past disguises.

– China surveilling citizens with facial recognition systems and 20 million cameras.

– Russia developing ways to use makeup to avoid facial recognition.

– Using facial recognition in eDiscovery.

– Reading the emotions of jurors.

– Who owns your face?

– And, of course, using facial recognition to unlock the upcoming iPhone X.

I have no idea why it’s happening this week, but there has been another flurry of unrelated articles on facial recognition:


  • This article discusses “the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) which governs rules of engagement for businesses seeking to use fingerprints, iris scans, facial data and other biometric identifiers” in the context of devices like the upcoming iPhone X.


  • AI researchers in Japan are tracking split-second changes in the facial expressions of Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda at press conferences to forecast fiscal policy changes. And it seems to be working. “We’d like to analyze (Fed chair Janet) Yellen and (ECB Gov. Mario) Draghi next,” Suimon said.


  • And now for something completely different: “The Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has launched the world’s first initiative for measuring customers’ happiness using artificial intelligence (i.e., facial recognition) technology. This initiative is a towering achievement towards ranking Dubai the smartest and happiest city in the world.” “This technology sends real-time alerts when the predetermined happiness levels increase or decrease in any of the customer’s happiness centres.” (Is this guy happy?? –>)


  • Speaking of your face (OK, that connection is a bit of a stretch), Intel Capital just led a $4.6 million capital round for AdHawk Microsystems’ “camera-free eye tracking system.” The tech and its applications discussed in this article are remarkable.


  • Another government is getting serious about AI. The UAE has appointed a “Minister for Artificial Intelligence” whose job will be to make UAE the “world’s most prepared country” for AI.


  • According to Artificial Lawyer, “IBM Watson has partnered with two of Sweden’s leading law firms, MAQS and Lindahl, as well as legal knowledge management consultancy, VQ, to build an AI-driven contract review and advice system.”


  • Finally for today, I love this tweet from Ron Friedmann.

I have often written and spoken about “The Singularity.” It may sound like science fiction, but it is real. [Check out Kurzweil’s book at the right for a deep dive.]  All serious students of AI of whom I am aware agree that at some point, computers will have more computing power than a human brain, or even all human brains. I’m not talking about consciousness, sentience, souls, or anything metaphysical. I’m talking about sheer power to process data. Almost everyone agrees that the power of computers will accelerate at an extreme rate as they teach themselves without human assistance (control?). This has given rise to warnings by Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, among others. Some of these are clearly “clickbait,” but among the descriptions of The Singularity are:

– “runaway technological growth, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization,”

– “end of the human era, as the new superintelligence would continue to upgrade itself and would advance technologically at an incomprehensible rate”

– “by 2029, computers will have human-level intelligence.” And  just a few years after that singularity humans will merge with machines.

Estimates as to when The Singularity will occur are all over the place, but the substantial majority range between 15 and 40 years from now. Most that I have seen lately are around 30 years (i.e., 2047).

I write all of that to provide perspective for this: The AI world is buzzing today because Google has made a significant stride toward The Singularity. Remember the recent breakthrough when AlphaGo beat the world’s best human Go player? (Go is vastly more complicated than chess.) Now a Google AI (Deepmind) has taught itself how to play Go and has beaten AlphaGo again and again (100 to 0).

Previous versions of AlphaGo built to compete against human masters of the game required hours and hours of training on Go gameplay, but AlphaGo Zero was able to teach itself to play in a matter of days using a technique called reinforcement learning. Details about this new tech, called “AlphaGo Zero” are here and here. Sample coverage from all over the world is here and here and here and here; and the Chinese are trying to catch up.


  • In this post, Ken Grady covers a couple of the major hurdles that need to be overcome for AI to really challenge human intelligence. Those are, ability to “reason” and achievement of “general intelligence.” (Sheer processing power is not a problem, and metaphysics is not really relevant.) This is related to AI someday actually practicing law.


  • I have recently been impressed by Apple’s inclusion of an AI-specific processor in the upcoming iPhone X. Recent press releases suggest that all major smart phone players are doing the same. And in related news, while some say Intel has been falling behind NVIDIA’s graphics chips in the AI race, this new class of chips may help Intel narrow the gap. “Intel Nervana Chip Aims To Revolutionize Artificial Intelligence.”


  • Here’s an example of DLA Piper’s AI practice’s work.


  • If you’re in the mood to read more about AI generally, this article has many excellent links.

Law firm marketers should embrace and promote AI in four ways:

  1. Encourage your firm to start an AI industry practice. This area is under-served and will generate a large amount of:

IP work (mainly patent),

domestic and international deals,

regulatory and legislative work as the world come to grips with the implications of AI and governments struggle to keep pace with the tech, and

disputes as the industry plays a bigger and bigger role in business and the lives of individuals.

2. Learn about AI generally and especially as used by your firm. Once you understand it, you should include mention of it in many of your marketing communications (see below). And it doesn’t hurt to show your Executive Committee that you’ve got a solid grasp of a subject that’s scarring the heck out of them.

3. Celebrate your use of AI and especially your clients’ successes that benefitted from your firm’s use of AI. This shows clients and prospects that you “get it” regarding this new tech. Do this through press releases, your website, blogs and social media.

4. Use AI to make your marketing better, faster and cheaper. This means using AI to improve your content marketing, pricing, predictive pitching, and leveraging several other aspects of your tech (including CRM, chatbots, programmatic advertising, website, blogs, and the integration of your marketing and financial systems with outside data sources to create really BIG data).

I’ll be talking about all of this in detail at the College of Law Practice Management’s Futures Conference in Atlanta next week. I’ll follow that with a couple of articles that I will post here (of course!).


  • Meanwhile, this article includes examples of law firms promoting their use of AI in their practices.


  • Kira is a leading player in M&A due-diligence contract review. This easy to digest advertorial explains their service.



  • Dennis Garcia, one of Microsoft’s assistant GCs will be speaking at a Lextalk webinar next week on the subject, “All industries – including the legal profession – need to be open to digital transformation in order to achieve more and better serve clients.” He’ll focus on AI. Details here.


  • In this post, Dr. Silvia Hodges Silverstein provides insights into corporate legal procurement and distinguishes it from legal operations. Many of the purchase drivers she discusses sound a lot like the “better, faster, cheaper” legal services promised by AI.


  • In this podcast, Dr. Zev J. Eigen, Littler’s Global Director of Data Analytics explains, “How the Use of AI in HR Benefits Employers and Candidates.”


  • The title of this Above the Law post by Joe Patrice says it all. It’s an easy and enjoyable read about AI. “No One Knows What It Is, But In-House Counsel Desperately Need It.” Oh, and the subtitle is, “In-house counsel don’t need to understand AI to know it’s importance.”


  • This article explains why our AI implementations shouldn’t look, feel or act TOO human.


  • Any doubt about investors’ love of AI? Baidu, the Chinese Internet giant, is betting big on artificial intelligence, and investors love it—the company’s shares kicked off 2017 trading at $168 and are now at an astounding $270. (And expected to keep climbing past $300.)
  • Some law schools (OK, very few) are finally getting serious about teaching the business of law. In this case (i.e., Northwestern), AI “goes to law school.” Their dean, Daniel Rodriguez, is stepping down from that role but remaining on the faculty and joining ROSS, “in an advisory role to help the company build out its law school and access to justice initiatives.” Putting more JDs on the street with no business training (especially tech-related) is a disservice to the profession.


  • In this post from August, Ron Friedmann clearly lays out today’s state of implementing AI in the practice of law. These are two pages you absolutely should read. (The poll at the end is based on a haphazard sample of 200+ Twitter users. The results line up pretty well with more rigorous surveys I have seen.)


  • According to Artificial Lawyer, after several months piloting, “… Eversheds Sutherland has announced its adoption of legal AI company ThoughtRiver as part of its managed legal services arm, ES Ignite.”


  • Here’s a good summary from Lavery de Billy LLP on the state of IP law regarding AI in Canada.


  • Bloomberg has launched a new subscription tool called “Points of Law,” “a case research platform that uses AI and data visualization to help attorneys, legal researchers and litigators highlight pertinent legal language, such as new case law or interpretations of a statute, within federal and state court opinions. It also allows users to find such legal language, which it deems “points of law,” across all court opinions in its database.” There are “millions” of such opinions in the database. Details here.


  • In a step forward for AI generally, Google’s…”A.I. project, AutoML, has successfully taught machine-learning software how to program machine-learning software. In some cases, the machines programmed better A.I. software than even the Google researchers could design.”


  • Yesterday I mentioned a report commissioned by the UK re AI. One of the recommendations was more government support for AI. I enjoyed the title of this post about the report, “Keep Calm and … Massively Increase Investment in Artificial Intelligence.”


  • One of the last frontiers for AI is replacing or at least supplementing human “judgment,” one aspect of which is ethical/moral judgment. MIT researchers have been working on this re self-driving cars: “The Moral Machine is an MIT simulator that tackles the moral dilemma of autonomous car crashes. It poses a number of no-win type scenarios that range from crashing into barriers or into pedestrians. In both outcomes, people will die and it is up to the respondent to choose who lives. After nearly a year of collecting over 18 million responses, they have applied the results to the AI program.” This article includes a link through which you can contribute to this crowd-sourced morality.
  • This report from Herbert Smith Freshfields suggests that the “bank of 2040 will be vastly different to the bank of today, with new technology and artificial intelligence making financial services more accessible to underutilised markets and enabling customers to connect with banks in new ways. (That’s 23 years from now; in AI terms, forever. IMHO, prognostications about AI more than five years out are no better than wild guesses.)


  • The UK government’s departments for Business; Energy and Industrial Strategy; and Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, commissioned a study of AI. The report forecasts that AI could add an extra £630bn to the UK economy by 2035 and suggests ways in which the UK could become a world leader in the field. Recommendations include:

development of “data trusts”,

financial backing for AI training,

the setting up of an “AI Council”, and

that the Alan Turing Institute become the nation’s institute for AI.

Here are some thoughts about the report from the BBC.


  • And here’s another gentleman from the BBC with interesting thoughts about AI in the UK, including the report mentioned above, and whether AI is being “over-hyped.”

  • Law firms face threats to their revenue streams from: 1) smarter in-house counsel, 2) other law firms who “get it” re AI and Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs), and 3) Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs). In each case, AI can enable those competitors to provide legal services better, faster and cheaper than traditional law firms. Many of the ALSPs grew up funded by investors and with AI in their veins. Still, those who dominate buyers’ mind share tend to be long time familiar brands. Axiom is the big exception. (Kudos to Acritas for providing this methodologically solid research.)


  • Speaking of those brand leaders and AI, Thomson Reuters is investing $100 million in a Toronto tech hub. Recent years’ major advances in AI have depended on breakthroughs in analytic algorithms, processing power and big data. Talk about “big data: “even as the company hosts more of its data on cloudbased servers, it still holds a massive 60,000 terabytes of information in its own data centres.” Wow.


  • According to this story from Artificial Lawyer, the “French Justice Ministry Sees ‘No Additional Value’ in Prédictive Legal AI.” In terms of AI’s promise of “better, faster, cheaper,” the ministry seems to have focused solely on the “better” aspect, ignoring the benefits of “faster” and “cheaper.” (“Prédictive” is being piloted by Taylor Wessing and Dentons, among others.)


  • The whacky world of AI prognostication: This report from CB Insights says AI is putting at risk 10 million jobs in the USA alone. Meanwhile, this one forecasts “huge job growth in AI jobs in Britain,” and this one says, “instead of destroying jobs AI Is creating new jobs in 4 out of 5 companies.” Here’s proof that there’s at least one new job available today!

  • This writer expects AI to “revolutionize marketing,” but sees it a mixed bag when it comes to marketing jobs, eliminating some, and empowering others. That may be related to the finding of this large international study by MIT that “reports that 91 percent of “iconic” companies — those that maintain both the highest levels of customer experience (CX) satisfaction and have world-leading brand recognition — deploy Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions to increase customer satisfaction, compared to 42 percent of companies in their fields overall.”


  • More on facial recognition: I reported a few days ago that China has deployed more than 20 million cameras in public places and intends to compile a database of all citizens’ visages. Reacting to a query concerning the security of that database, a vendor for the Ministry of Public Security claimed that “data theft would be impossible,” saying that “downloading the data would be as difficult as launching a missile with a nuclear warhead.” Is it just me, or does that sound like the precursor to the announcement of a massive security breach?


  • It’s Friday, so here’s an AI thought piece for your weekend. The subject: what is consciousness and can AI ever be conscious/self-aware? It’s a DEEEEEP dive into the Theory of Mind.
  • Richard Susskind:  By 2036, he posits, “It is neither hyperbolic nor fanciful to expect that the legal profession will have changed beyond recognition.” Check out this article for comments by several others regarding the future impact of AI on lawyering. (My prognostication is that Susskind’s predictions are closer to what we’ll see than those of most of these nay-sayers.)


  • One of the developments that has caught me by surprise is the number of major players in AI who have open-sourced their tech. Here’s such an announcement from Intel. This is particularly good news for smaller companies (and law firms) who want to get into the game without huge investments. This author agrees about the benefit to smaller organizations.


  • Clifford Chance is staffing up to focus on cutting edge tech.


  • Big investments in:

Legal AI: Legal research leader ROSS Intelligence has landed an $8.7M investment from a group led by iNovia Capital. ROSS uses the IBM Watson AI engine and is now working with more than 20 law firms.

Marketing: A group led by Insight Venture Partners has purchased Nashville-based “Emma” a tech-driven eMarketing company.


  • The porn industry has been a driver of many tech innovations (e.g., VCRs, DVDs, augmented reality, Internet streaming). Now Pornhub is using facial recognition to identify and tag the “stars” of their videos.


  • Here’s a fun comparison by Time of where AI seems to really be headed vs its portrayal in Sc-Fi.
(Original Caption) Boris Karloff, Colin Clive and Dwight Frye in a scene from the 1931 Universal Pictures production of Frankenstein.
  • According to a recent survey by Corporate Counsel: “… legal departments in some of the largest global companies are looking to bring AI in-house. The market for AI tools is heating up with no end in sight, and some former general counsel are moving into AI tech startups, confident that the technology is what the industry needs.” (BUT!) “… most corporate legal teams are not ready to adopt AI in the near future, nor do many understand its application.” Note “some” in the first line. The story does a good job explaining the hesitancy and confusion about AI among GCs.


  • Latham & Watkins reports that the US Senate is on track to introduce autonomous vehicle legislation similar to the House’s SELF DRIVE Act. One notable difference, the Senate version does not address commercial vehicles.


  • MoFo announced the results of its semi-annual Tech M&A Leaders’ Survey, which shows dealmakers expect technology M&A to remain robust over the next 12 months. AI is predicted to be a very strong driver.


  • This piece is about consulting practices, but the basic argument applies to the practice of law, and using AI to sift through mountains of data to find the elusive bits upon which an argument might hinge.


  • Rajah & Tann Asia has adopted Luminance’s artificial intelligence technology to enhance its due diligence processes for M&A transactions.


  • Here’s why and how you should use big data to set your fees for legal matters. And here’s why you need to undertake some process reengineering first.


  • China’s top e-commerce firm, Alibaba is investing $15 billion (yes, that’s a “B”) to build overseas research hubs in China, Israel, the United States, Russia and Singapore and is hiring 100 researchers to work on AI, quantum computing and fintech. Meanwhile, in this video, the U.S. chief of Chinese search giant Baidu, says “AI is the single most important force of our time.”


  • This article may be overstating the hype a bit — that is to say, things will develop faster than the author predicts, but it’s a very good read about AI’s potential, long and short term.


  • A couple of days ago I posted about Google new headphones capable of simultaneous translation across 40 languages. This author is skeptical (to say the least). Still, it will be very interesting to see how this AI application plays out.


  • I have a feeling AI will soon surpass humans regarding emotional intelligence. This author agrees.
  • In his abstract, David Barnhizer, author of this 35-page (and 85 footnotes) somewhat academic piece on Legal AI, describes it as a “brief look at the effects of technological development on law jobs and law schools.” I suppose we each have our own definition of “brief.” Nonetheless, this is a solid/balanced overview of AI generally, and especially as related to the legal industry. His warnings about the general impact of AI are backed up and he provides several fresh perspectives (e.g., we are at the moment of “peak human”). How fast is change coming? “Very fast, with lightning speed, beyond anyone’s rational projections.”


  • This article about Legal AI draws an interesting distinction between what it calls “commercial AI” and “institutional AI.” It also distinguishes between AI as an aid to decision-making and as an aid to process automation. It concludes by rightly calling AI a “competitive necessity.”


  • Singapore law firm Wong Partnerships “has adopted technology from London-based AI firm Luminance, to support the Corporate/M&A practice which is actively engaged in numerous transactions in Singapore (and across ASEAN and the Middle East).”


  • Yesterday I posted two interesting articles about Estonia’s focus on AI. Now their legislature is working on giving AI legal status, creating “robot-agents.”


  • In this post, DLA Piper’s Giangiacomo Olivi, Gareth Stokes and Bonella Ramsay discuss the threats to data privacy (especially medical) posed by AI. (Here comes the GDPR again.)


  • Here’s an excellent overview of AI in the world of patents.


  • Lloyd’s of London signed a global deal with Expert System to use the company’s Cognito software, “to modernize its business processes in order to support the needs of market participants.”



  • Can AI be “sentient”? “Conscious”? “Self-aware”? Have a soul? I always sidestep these issues in my presentations but love to argue about them over a bottle of wine. This editorial from the Washington Post (by Jonathan Aberman) surfaces those issues but doesn’t firmly take a position. (Good!) I love the title, “Think humans are superior to AI? Don’t be a ‘carbon chauvinist’.”


  • Here are a few interesting pieces about advances in AI generally (not directly law-related):
    • Nvidia has created the world’s first artificial intelligence computer to make self-driving “robotaxis” a reality — the kind that won’t even have a steering wheel or a gas pedal.
    • How about cars that can see around corners? “The CSAIL team’s imaging system, which can work with smartphone cameras, uses information about light reflections to detect objects or people in a hidden scene and measure their speed and trajectory — all in real-time.” Wow.
    • “Deep Learning pioneer Twenty Billion Neurons (TwentyBN) debuts an AI technology that is the world’s first to show an awareness of its environment and of the actions occurring within it.”
    • Grocer Tesco seems to be testing the sort of checkout-free supermarkets being tried by Amazon Go.
    • I have posted many times about the race between nations to become leaders in AI. Now, it seems, the Japanese government is determined to catch up with the Chinese. “Japan needs to do everything in its power to catch up.” Good luck with that.

  • This piece from CB Insights is the deepest dive I’ve seen in a while into the impact of AI on jobs. I disagree with some of the conclusions, but there’s a lot of good data here. The brief discussion of lawyers is near the end (search your browser for “Lawyers”) and you should jump right to it.


  • Official governmental use of AI translation: the EU Council Presidency has began using Tilde, a AI-powered translation tool to enable multilingual communication. This system is from Estonia, another country whose government is solidly behind AI innovations.


  • I saw “Blade Runner 2049” yesterday and loved it. As with the original, in addition to being an excellent film, it raises many questions about our relationship with AI. As this reviewer points out, “this is a cautionary warning of what may actually happen.” This review does a good job of putting this film in the context of other AI-related works.


  • And in the almost Sci-Fi front, facial recognition AI is getting so good that it can see past disguises.


  • Mattel has had another AI product shot down (remember W-Fi Barbie in 2015?). This time it’s AI-powered babysitter “Aristotle.” A non-profit watchdog group successfully argued that it “attempts to replace the care, judgment and companionship of loving family members with faux nurturing and conversation from a robot designed to sell products and build brand loyalty.”


  • Wow. It has been 20 years since IBM’s Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov in a game of chess. Kasparov has some interesting (and generally positive) thoughts about AI here.