By Joseph Raczynski
If you were to imagine the researching aspect of a law firm of the future, what would that look like? Kyla Moran from the IBM Watson Group led a discussion down the path of what we could expect. In what seemed like a shock to many in the room, Moran described an office similar to today, with one difference: Watson will work in tandem with lawyers, listening to queries and providing natural language feedback with an enhanced ability to understand the tone of the question or conversation. Moran termed this augmented knowledge or intelligence, noting this service will be your personal savant, ever-ready to assist with a wealth of knowledge.
What started as a million dollar investment, IBM Watson now has the ability to process 700 million pages of data in one second. As the system continues to develop, it is likely that in the future many, if not all decisions, will be influenced by cognitive computing.
Moran also spoke about the pivotal moment that shifted the cognitive computing industry. The game show Jeopardy thrust IBM onto center stage with the computer beating the best two players of all time. Moran said that the company learned some valuable lessons from that experience. First was the importance of memory. Watson had a treasure trove of information and metadata, but new in this sphere was the ability to enhance and understand contextual information. Watson could interpret Jeopardy’s tricky language like, “Chicks Can Dig Me,” a category about female archaeologist on the show. Lastly, Watson could see more than black or white, but rather an array of a thousand shades of gray. This important nuance allows the system to rank possible answers rather than a single answer. Ultimately these learnings have allowed augmented intelligence to now aid in human decision making.
While Watson has made much hay outside of legal market, medical, financial and now cooking; where does Moran see it helping law firms?
Moran said that one-third of an associate’s time is typically spent on research with 52 percent of associates conducting a free web search as the first step in their research process. She insinuated that this is one huge area that she expects augmented intelligence assisting. She also mentioned that this will accelerate the vacuums of law where 80 percent of Americans who need legal services are unable to acquire or afford it, while large numbers of lawyers are unable to find clients. This mixture is primed for the use of augmented intelligence to assist.
While the current state of legal adoption of IBM Watson is relatively low, there is no question that such technologies are set to explode over the coming years. With the rapid expansion of both structured and unstructured data, these tools will have to be utilized to better understand the enormous data surrounding legal professionals.