• Yesterday’s keynote address by Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Finance, at the “Future Lawyering Conference 2017” in Singapore is definitely worth reading. He mentioned many recent uses of AI in the law (e.g., DoNotPay, COIN, Verifi, FLIP, ROSS) and concludes that, “(i)t is those lawyers who are able to innovate and adapt and adopt technology who will win the future.”

I found it especially interesting that he specifically discussed the need for law firms to market their services:

Finally, let me say something about branding and marketing.
– You can be the best lawyer or the best firm with the best technical skills but if clients don’t know you, you won’t get the work. Out of sight is out of mind.
– Singapore law practices need to more actively market their services. A Law Society study of small and medium sized practices found that 53% of interviewees had no deliberate business development plans.
– Business development should not be left to chance. Singapore law practices must have proper business development plans to grow their businesses especially if they want to regionlise and internationalise.
– Branding and marketing will become even more important as law firms regionalise. And this is branding and marketing not just for law firms but for the individual lawyers themselves. Because each of you have to differentiate yourselves from the others, in order to capture your share of the work. So you have to think of your value proposition: what is it that differentiates you from the others? What is your personal brand? And then you have to work out how it fits into your firm’s brand.

 

  • And Singapore is one of the many countries/governments looking to AI to help propel them into the future. Singapore in particular cites a recent Accenture study’s prediction that AI will “nearly double Singapore’s annual economic growth rates by 2035. The research also found that Singapore is at the forefront to integrate innovation and technologies into the wider economy, ahead of the largest economies in the world such as the United States, Germany, United Kingdom & Japan.” This will be driven, at least in part, by Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative.

On the legal front, Singapore is already using AI to fight money laundering.

And China has similar intentions, “China intends to become the world’s artificial intelligence leader in 2030, according to the manifesto it just released describing plans to create an industry of $150 billion and an environment that has AI “everywhere.”

 

  • We need anti-robot legislation. I agree with the author of this editorial from the NYT who cites “bots” behaviors from annoying to very bad as reasons for a “Blade Runner Law.”

– For popular Broadway shows (need we say “Hamilton”?), it is actually bots, not humans, who do much and maybe most of the ticket buying. Shows sell out immediately, and the middlemen (quite literally, evil robot masters) reap millions in ill-gotten gains,

– Product reviews have been swamped by robots (which tend to hand out five stars with abandon),

– In coming years, campaign finance limits will be (and maybe already are) evaded by robot armies posing as “small” donors,

– During the French election, it was principally Twitter robots who were trying to make #MacronLeaks into a scandal,

– Facebook has admitted it was essentially hacked during the American election in November, and

– This spring, the Federal Communications Commission put its proposed revocation of net neutrality up for public comment. In previous years such proceedings attracted millions of (human) commentators. This time, someone with an agenda but no actual public support unleashed robots who impersonated (via stolen identities) hundreds of thousands of people, flooding the system with fake comments against federal net neutrality rules.

As a remedy, the author suggests, “(t)he ideal anti-robot campaign would employ a mixed technological and legal approach. Improved robot detection might help us find the robot masters or potentially help national security unleash counterattacks, which can be necessary when attacks come from overseas. There may be room for deputizing private parties to hunt down bad robots. A simple legal remedy would be a “ Blade Runner” law that makes it illegal to deploy any program that hides its real identity to pose as a human. Automated processes should be required to state, “I am a robot.” When dealing with a fake human, it would be nice to know.”

 

  • And to finish up on a bit of a frightening note, Russia has joined the US and China in the integration of AI into its missile systems. (“It’s not just missiles that will get a robotic makeover. In May, the head of another leading weapons group said he wanted to bring artificial intelligence to “swarms of drones.”)Have a great weekend!