Sunday LawTech Review — 3rd December 2017

Advent is upon us, and the season of overconsumption begins! My wife and I attended our first Christmas party of the year yesterday and the tree and decorations are going up this evening, in a solid attempt to be better organised this year! Whilst many of us might be starting to ease off for Christmas now, the LawTech sector has had another busy week.

More about Ailira — the ‘firm without lawyers’ chatbot

Legal Futures’ Dan Bindman has written a great in depth piece on the Ailira chatbot that we mentioned in last weeks LawTech Review.

Artificial Intelligence may help you win your next court case!

The India Economic Times reports on LegalitQuest, an Indian startup providing AI enabled search tools that allow users to search case law records for the most relevant results.

Pinsent Masons to axe dozens of PA roles

The Gazette reports that Pinsent Masons have cut around 80 personal assistant roles within its UK offices. The job losses are linked to better use of technology meaning less PA’s are required. As reported in Legal IT Insider back in September, Pinsents said “Over the past year Pinsent Masons has invested significantly in technology…one of the consequences of this is that our resourcing levels among PA staff and the needs of the business are no longer aligned.”. PA’s will be one of many legal support roles that change as new technology in the legal sector emerges.

Legal AI gains traction as UK startup Luminance targets the US

Bloomberg takes an interest in the LawTech sector as it reports that London-based Luminance, whose software helps law firms review contracts and other documents ahead of mergers and acquisitions, has secured $10 million to help fund its expansion, including pushing further into the US by opening a Chicago office. Slaughter & May, who began working with Luminance last year and reportedly took a 5% stake in the company back then have also reportedly invested in the latest funding round.

House of Lords Urges UK Government to Explore DLT Adoption

CoinDesk report on the release of a report by the House of Lords that highlights the opportunity and potential that could come from leveraging the benefits of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) when provisioning government services. The thumbs up from the House of Lords gives yet another image boost for a technology whose beginnings were in the murky world of unregulated digital currencies. You can read the full report here.

The future of public service identity: blockchain

A bit more DLT for you — this time from Reform — “an independent, non-party think tank whose mission is to set out a better way to deliver public services and economic prosperity.”. The report proposes a new identity management model powered by blockchain, and notes that whilst the Government has attempted to improve identity management through the GOV.UK Verify scheme there are limitations to it, primarily that control of personal data still sits with government. In addition, uptake of Verify has been slow and departments such as HMRC continue to use their own identity model. You can read the full report here, which is another green light for the use of blockchain technology.

Elon Musk and the Killer Robots

Elon Musk has this week taken to twitter to remind us of the dangers that artificial intelligence poses to human existence, and called again for better regulation of artificial intelligence and the companies that utilise it. Back when I was studying AI at university I was lucky enough to be taught by Professor Noel Sharkey of Robot Wars fame. Sharkey has long been concerned with the dangers of autonomous robots and has been calling for a code of ethics for over a decade. More recently other voices have joined the fight, with Musk leading a call from 116 experts back in August for an outright ban on killer robots. Earlier this month during an event at the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons (hosted by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots!), Stuart Russell, an AI scientist from the University of California in Berkeley, released a short film about the dangers of developing autonomous weapons:

When quizzed about the film by the Guardian, Russell said:

“The technology illustrated in the film is simply an integration of existing capabilities. It is not science fiction. In fact, it is easier to achieve than self-driving cars, which require far higher standards of performance”

Regulation is needed now to ensure autonomous weapons do not become a reality.

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