• Here’s a big milestone that should impact the practice and business of law. Microsoft’s speech recognition can now transcribe human speech with a 5.1% error rate — the same error rate as humans. There are still challenges, “such as achieving human levels of recognition in noisy environments with distant microphones, in recognizing accented speech, or speaking styles and languages for which only limited training data is available.” (Better, faster, cheaper.)



  • I’ve posted several times about the danger of autonomous AI-controlled weapons systems. This past weekend there were several posts on the subject and the possibility that a “hyperwar” might result. Musk and 100 other tech bosses are calling on the UN for a ban.


  • Here’s a fun doodle from Goggle today.


  • When I first heard about the possibility of of AI in the business of law, this is the application that first came to mind, the identification of “at risk” clients and the steps that should be taken to keep them. DLA has done that, and shared that experience at ILTA. Well done.


  • The next big step forward in AI tech is likely to involve quantum computing. Here’s what you need to know.


  • Apple is making steps to integrate data across all of its devices (home, car, phone). Others are already ahead in some ways, but I wouldn’t count Apple out. Apple has already moved beyond rules-based training to neural nets and machine learning.

Speaking of Apple, here are the latest leaked images of what may be next month’s iPhone 8.

Enjoy the eclipse!

I’m not attending ILTA this week, but I’m reading about a hundred blog posts, tweets and press releases from Vegas every day. So far, my biggest takeaway is “ho hum.” Most of the discussion I’m seeing is the rehashing of old news (e.g., IBM’s Tuesday keynote about AI and the business of law), and the press releases from the vendors don’t include much that’s really newsworthy. Again, I’m not there, so I may be missing something. Ron Friedmann (of course) and Artificial Lawyer are providing solid boots-on-the-ground reporting.

  • That said, this post from ILTA reinforces (but perhaps overstates) things I’ve been hearing for a few weeks about the coming importance of blockchain technologies to law firms and their clients. If you’re new to blockchain, check out this explanation from HBR.


  • This post from Ron Friedmann has good tips regarding implementation of AI in law firms from folks who have been there, done that.


  • Amnesty International said on Wednesday the number of suspected drug dealers killed in police raids in Indonesia… (Oops, wrong AI. Back to Artificial Intelligence.)


  • These statistics from Thomson Reuters point to the phenomenal growth of technology in legal services. To wit:

“…579 patents relating to new legal services technology were filed worldwide in 2016, up from just 99 patents in 2012….”  ‘…the figures reflect the rise of alternative legal services, such as virtual law firms, and the rapid expansion of the online legal industry’.”


In this post, Ken Grady does his usual sharp job of explaining why is is very important that lawyers be conversant in AI if they are going to, among other things, advise clients how to reduce the risk from the threats and benefits of AI. (I love the quote he chose: “Your defences must therefore be as flexible and inventive as the arts you seek to undo” — Professor Snape discussing defence during a 1996 lesson.”)


  • Here’s another solid primer on AI technologies.


  •  As Musk and others (rightly) call for regulation of AI, remember, in the USA we already have quite a few relevant laws & regs on the books.
  • This is a bit out of the Big Law mainstream, but here’s how LegalZoom is using AI to optimize its media plan.


  • From Down Under, Piper Alderman’s good summary of the state of AI-driven contracts and contract review.


  • And speaking of summaries, kudos to Sterling Miller for this excellent, “TEN THINGS: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE – WHAT EVERY LEGAL DEPARTMENT REALLY NEEDS TO KNOW,” a summary of four of his previous pieces. If you’re in-house and new to AI, this is required reading.


  • From press release: “Compliance.ai announces its search for Regulatory Heroes to assist as “Experts in the Loop” (EITL) for classifying and ranking regulatory documents on its AI-powered financial regulatory platform. Qualified contributors gain immediate access to the industry’s most comprehensive collection of regulatory insights, trends and content. … Compliance.ai automatically processes millions of regulatory documents from all major federal and state agencies, as well as white papers, and boils them down to tangible insights and trends.”


  • Garner has released its latest “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies” report. It’s no surprise that AI is the #1 megatrend “that will enable businesses to survive and thrive in the digital economy over the next five to 10 years.” AI “will enable organizations with AI technologies to harness data in order to adapt to new situations and solve problems that no one has ever encountered previously.”


  • If you’re interested in a very deep dive into the Musk vs. Zuck AI nerd fight, here it is. Fundamentally, they side with the stance in the best interest of their corporate positions. “the debate ultimately boils down to whether we trust the Corporate State to protect the social order. The Muskovites resolutely do not, and the Zuckers are a little hurt that they haven’t earned our trust already.”
  • Here’s a good example of AI making legal services “better, faster, cheaper.” Bootstrap Legal “allows real estate sponsors to draft their own legal offering documents” (for review by a real live lawyer). The founder’s title is “Chief Legal Hacker.”


  • From ILTACON, some thoughts about AI and ethics from Chris Mammen, a partner at Hogan Lovells and David Curle, Thomson Reuters’ director of market intelligence. Among other things, the “black box” issue re AI is explained, but no conclusions are reached.



  • I’m also interested in seeing what actually materializes from the integration of RAVN and iManage. There’s certainly potential.



  • If you’re interested in more understanding of what’s under the hood of AI, this may be useful: “What You Need to Know About Machine Learning Algorithms and Why You Should Care.” And for an overview of the types of Neural Nets, this.



I expect a flood of interesting developments from ILTACON17 this week. I’ll do my best to focus on the essentials. I won’t post links to every press release (e.g.), only those with an interesting story or, IMHO, really breakthrough tech. (It’s still early Monday morning so there’s not yet much news from Vegas, where I expect many of the newsmakers are still asleep or nursing hangovers from the weekend.)


  • I’ve been posting quite a few announcements about law firms selecting AI vendors and issuing press releases. Seems I should be doing the same re ALSPs and their partners. For instance, Artificial Lawyer reports that in the UK, Carillion Advice Services has selected Luminance. I’m sure there will be a LOT of that coming from ILTA.


Not all of the interesting AI news is coming from Vegas.

  • For instance, at the ABA meeting in NYC, IBM continues to suggest AI is not a threat, and we should think of Augmented Intelligence helping people with their jobs, rather than displacing them. And according to a survey by Adobe, most of the office workers who would be displaced are optimistic about AI helping them and not worried–yet.


  • Richard Susskind has fresh thoughts about AI and the legal profession. Spoiler alert: he thinks it’s “exciting!” He believes it will be positive for A2J, but worries that the Luddites (my word) running firms today will hold back the enthusiasm the younger attorneys most likely to benefit.

In a related story from The Guardian, there’s optimism in the UK about AI helping with A2J, even though “…the new EU general data protection regulation explicitly states that individuals have the right not to be subject to a decision when it is based on automated processing….”



  • If all this talk about AI and your job has you concerned, not to worry, AI can help you spiff up your resume and interviewing skills as you look for your next opportunity.


  • For the Legal Marketers out there, here’s an interesting article about how AI will change the methods, substance and measurement of advertising. It’s not much of a reach to see how this will eventually come to law firms.



  • Seems Elon Musk really wants some AI regulation. He has doubled down on his rhetoric about how AI is to be feared. (HT to @DanielBGreene for this story.) Meanwhile, folks (like Musk’s own company, OpenAI) are teaching AI to behave, and other have contrary views about the threat. IBM seems to come down somewhere in the middle. 
  • From the ‘this is just cool!’ department, “Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem devised a method enabling computers to mine databases of patents, inventions and research papers, identifying ideas that can be repurposed to solve new problems or create new products.” This is based on recent advances in AI’s ability to find analogies. The award-winning research was supported by The National Science Foundation, Bosch, Google and CMU’s Web 2020 initiative.



  • As mentioned in Legal Tech News, the market for AI-driven contract solutions has “taken off.” The latest offering is Wolters Kluwer’s M&A Clause Analytics platform. The linked article discusses advantages of this system over other offerings and a couple of limitations but reports that there is a road map to address those in a future launch.


  • Seyfarth Shaw has selected iManage Extract to perform document review and comparison across all practice areas.


  • Goulston & Storrs’ RetailLawAdvisor blog has a new post about brick & mortar retailers using AI to compete with online retailers via surveillance methods and using robots to help shoppers.


  • And finally, for your weekend reading, this thought piece from PBS presents a very good overview of the considerations that should be involved in regulating AI and where we seem to be headed.

  • If your firm does business in Europe and in any way uses data about individuals, you must get ready for the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will take effect in May 2018. As AI is completely dependent on data, this will directly impact any sort of AI systems relying on personal data you have planned for use in the EU. This may even impact models you have already developed.


  • Jeff Pfeifer of LexisNexis has provided a high level summary of where the legal industry stands re use of AI and the specific sorts of tools being employed. This piece is not as much as a projection into the future as a summary of what lawyers could, nay should, be doing today to work better, faster and cheaper. Though very positive about the utility of AI in legal, Mr. Pfeifer comes down in the camp that holds that in the future AI will free attorneys to do more high value/interesting work, but not completely replace them.


  • Norton Rose Fulbright‘s Troy Ungerman has posted his thoughts about using AI to identify M&A targets. He mentions tools by Kira and Aingel specifically.


  • This story from The Indiana Lawyer presents the thoughts of lawyers from several smaller law firms regarding AI, what it might mean for their clients and their practices. Bottom line, “AI is more of a benefit than a threat because it allows legal professionals to use their minds and training for the creative work that comes with being an attorney.”


  • And this from Detroit’s Macomb County Legal News does a solid job detailing where in-house counsel are, and are headed, using tools like IBM Watson Legal and Thomson Reuters’ Legal Tracker (formerly Serengeti) to reduce outside legal spend.


  • This is a very useful piece about the use of AI (a.k.a., “cognitive technology”) in all sorts of risk management. In summary, AI will be essential if one is to compete in the future. If you have been a regular reader of this blog you’re used to my mantra that “it’s all about the data.” So, I very much agree with:

“Successful digital strategies are built on data. The competence you build around data management will determine how successful your digital strategy is. Odds are, however, that managing data ‘the way you always have’ won’t cut it.”


  • I have posted several times about various governments getting solidly behind their countries’ AI initiatives (not the USA), It seems S. Korea (arguably the world’s most automated country) may be heading at least a bit in the opposite direction as they consider a change to their tax code that would provide less support for companies investing in automated machinery. “Though it is not about a direct tax on robots, it can be interpreted as a similar kind of policy considering that both involve the same issue of industrial automation,” an industry source told news outlet The Korea Times.


  • Moving AI from the theories of the 1950s to today’s rapid pace has required three fundamental advances: more sophisticated algorithms, more data and much more processing power. It looks like IBM has just taken another big step forward regarding the third area, processing speed.


  • This piece from Toby Walsh, Scientia Professor of AI at the University of New South Wales (cool title!) may start you thinking. He draws a compelling parallel between the rise of AI and the industrial revolution, and suggests that this will require substantial new regulation, and soon.


  • This article talks a bit about AI possibly threatening the jobs of in-house patent folks. According to the author, RoboReview by TurboPatent Corp. may provide some help now in comparing claims to past applications to predict eligibility but it won’t be a real threat for a while — if ever.


  • It looks like iManage will be all over ILTACON17 next week with their email and document management tools.


  • AI in the judiciary? This article presents an interesting discussion of the concept–pros and cons of AI in various roles. (You can skip the first four of five paragraphs that introduce AI.)


  • Here’s a story about a law school student in Singapore who put his studies on hold to explore AI. (Singapore sure “punches above its weight” when it comes to AI activity.)
  • This lengthy article from Professor Jeffrey M. Lipshaw of the Suffolk University Law School presents some very fresh thinking about the uses and limitations of AI in law (i.e., “Deciding and Acting Under Uncertainty”). Specifically, the author discusses the inability of AI to make decisions when complete data is not available versus humans’ ability to ‘just decide.’

The background information provided in this article will be particularly interesting to any student of AI (e.g., “Turing’s position was not that machines could learn to think perfectly or even like humans, but that the positives of machines would outweigh the limitations.”).

Lipshaw concludes with suggestions as to how law schools should adapt to the new world of lawyers + AI: “But if we are going to be futurists about artificial intelligence and the legal profession, it should be with clear and unfrenzied heads about the theoretical constraints on what digital (at least) lawyer-automatons like my Kearse (his hypothetical ultimate Turing machine) will be able to do.”


  • This article from TR Legal Solutions suggests that, at least for the foreseeable future, “(AI) will not make attorneys extinct, but merely provide more technology to help solve problems.” “It is more likely that intelligent computers and humans will adapt to work together.”


  • Sterling Miller presents pretty much the same case in this piece where he argues that foreseeable future, AI will not be able to replace the essential judgement and relationship skills of human lawyers. He expects AI to make the attorney’s job easier and more interesting, and for the in-house legal department, “better, faster, and cheaper.”


  • Axiom has launched AxiomAI, “a program that aims to leverage AI to improve the efficiency and quality of Axiom’s contract work.” The intent is to have the AI tools (e.g., Kira) working behind the scenes in services that Axiom has been providing for some time (“all things contracting”). They plan to expand the application of AI beyond M&A contracts. More from Ron Friedman.


  • Baker McKenzie is launching AI tools for contract review on M&A and other transactional work worldwide. eBrevia has been selected as its AI tool of choice.


  • This article argues that the amount of data now involved in compliance and internal audits is so great that use of AI is essential. (Subscription required for entire article.)


  • The 13th annual ranking of governments’ use of technology has been released. Five new trends have emerged; “(1) Mobile Government, (2) AI and IoT for Digital Government, (3) Smart City, (4) Cloud Computing Technology and Digital Government, (5) ICT (information and communication technologies) for Anti-Corruption.”