• Here are my predictions for 2018 (I consider all three very safe bets):

1. AI will cause and (for the most part) prevent cybersecurity attacks. One expert: “(M)achine learning (will) help you kick some serious black-hat butt next year.” This story from India outlines the attack vectors and, the AI vs. AI competition. The 2018 College of Law Practice Management Futures Conference will largely focus on cybersecurity.

2. China will become an even bigger player in AI (government and commercially).

Shortly after their best Go player lost decisively to AlphaGo, China announced an ambitious national programme to overtake the United States in AI by 2030. (Leaders from Putin to Musk have said whoever wins the AI race will “rule the world.”)

From Law.com: Peking University Law School will partner with cloud-based analytics tool Gridsum to launch a research center to examine possibilities for AI in China’s legal system.

Between 2012 and the third quarter of 2017, investors poured $4.5 billion into 200+ Chinese AI companies; over half of those investments have occurred over the past two years.

“China’s plan to fast-track AI development comes amid heightened tensions between Beijing and the United States over the competitive applications of AI in military technology.”

They’ll strut their stuff at CES next week with speech recognition, computer vision, smart cities, autonomous driving and machine learning. Giants Alibaba, Huawei, Lenovo, and Baidu will be there along with several others.

A $2 billion AI tech park being built in Beijing.

China’s president had 2 AI books on his shelf during his New Year speech.

Here’s a summary of China’s AI advances from NPR.

One of the major constraints facing China in this race is lack of trained AI talent. (So far, China outpays US companies for AI talent.)  Which leads me to my final prediction:

3. Lack of skilled talent will continue to hold back AI development. E&Y has reported on shortage in Silicon Valley. In India the problem is particularly acute.


  • Here are highlights from last week’s Digital Ethics Summit 2017 which included discussion of tech trends facing IP lawyers. Possible regulatory frameworks were presented.


  • In this post, Ron Friedmann, astute observer of all things legal, suggests that the immediate impact of AI on law firms “appears limited,” but that “(s)mart firms will continue … to explore AI potential and stay current with developments.”


  • And here, Ron explains Chapman and Cutler‘s “Analysts” program in which the firm delegates substantive work to business professionals without law degrees. (Some might disparaging call them “non-lawyers.”) The firm recognized that “delegating some tasks that lawyers now do to professionals without a JD would improve the firm’s efficiency and offer clients better value.” Perhaps this is an interim stage until AI becomes sophisticated/capable enough to handle many of these tasks.


  • Almost two weeks after the fact, Blank Rome posted a story about Congress’ recent focus on AI. (Published in 2018 with “© 2017 Blank Rome LLP.”)


  • If you’ll be in Denver on January 18, don’t miss Elonide Semmes’ presentation on AI in law, and legal marketing in particular. Good stuff!


  • If you’re new to AI, you’ll benefit from this lengthy but very good explanation and history of AI/machine learning using AlphaGo as an example. And here’s an explanation of AI’s Holy Grail, “artificial general intelligence” (AGI). If you’ve heard about the debate as to whether AI poses an existential threat to humanity but aren’t sure what it’s about, here’s a summary and update.