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The Canadian Bar Association

Kirsten Thompson

Legal innovation

A technician of the robot revolution

By Kirsten Thompson December 20, 2016 20 December 2016

A technician of the robot revolution


I worry about my role in the future. 

Sure, pundits and thought leaders call it “legal innovation” but, frankly, I’m at risk of being replaced by a robot. And, my friend, so are you. 

The machines have already consolidated their gains in automated industries and are continuing their migration into white-collar work. Artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing, the “next generation” of computing, will render most paperwork (and pushers of paper) redundant. Even contracts, the bread and butter of most lawyers, will be automated—there are already small-scale examples of self-executing “smart contracts.” 

In terms of litigation, not only are computers demonstrating pretty good batting averages in predicting case outcomes (the judicial decisions of the European Court of Human Rights were recently predicted at 79 per cent accuracy using AI) but they are also pretty good at predicting your personal batting average. That’s right—there’s at least one service (Premonition Analytics) that uses AI, predictive analytics and data mining to figure out which lawyers win the most before which judge. 

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