We have all heard the buzz around Artificial Intelligence (AI). Predictive analytics, big data, machine learning and information extraction - the possibilities for business are endless. AI deals with algorithms, deriving value from various facets of natural intelligence. It consists of executing tasks that usually require human intelligence, such as information extraction, speech recognition, and decision making.
Indeed, machines are more accurate, productive, and don't get tired or emotional. Despite all the upside, AI probably hasn't lived up to its hype just yet. This is greatly due to a gap in knowledge about what’s actually possible with AI today. There's plenty of lofty ideas floating around, and some will come to fruition - but their full potential may not be realised anytime soon. The nebulous and uncertain nature of AI's current capabilities, coupled with a lack of regulation, results in caution and wariness from business.
So what value can AI deliver for business today?
Machine learning is a growing trend for business. In short, it's the ability of technology to learn new skills without actively being programmed - computers iteratively learn from new data. Increasingly we are seeing machine learning being adopted for reviewing contracts, commercial compliance, and associated due diligence. Such technology can look at standard clauses and report on gaps or raise red flags. This expedites review time, and helps significantly reduce legal risk in spaces such as mergers and acquisitions.
Sectors with significant volume work, or work that has standardised procedures will benefit. Varying levels of automation are already being adopted in the healthcare, manufacturing, transportation and finance sectors.
Expert systems are also already delivering value to many businesses. They use advanced logic and machine learning to provide intermediate legal advice. With insights from our clients, MinterEllison has developed tools in this space, like our Dismissal Advice Application for use by Human Resources professionals. The user inputs data into the app, that provides advice and direction. It maps out paths that are available to the client. Like all expert systems, it relies on accurate and extensive intellectual property to be inputted to drive sound advice.
MinterEllison is also developing similar applications for the health care, aged care and life sciences sector; providing legal insights for health care workers when dealing with patients.
Such developments will streamline the way advice is delivered and reduce the risk associated with human error. AI will open up efficiencies in speed, accuracy and timely advice.
With all this great advice set to come from AI, what is the future for lawyers?
Lawyers will be empowered to focus more effectively on the highest value legal tasks for the client, while the AI applications efficiently take on the lower value process elements of the legal workflow.
It is expected that AI technologies will also make legal advice more affordable for a greater number of businesses than ever before, and provide automated legal services to augment social justice programs.
As consumer confidence grows, business is going to demand that lawyers employ AI technologies to deliver more effective and efficient legal services. Lawyers will need to how to work seamlessly with AI, and how to expertly plug and pull information from these systems. As typing was once a skill, so too will the ability to interface with AI.