My new legal manager is a heartless bitch. Literally.
Law firm Baker & Hostetler's CEO Andrew Arruda announced that they are employing the services of IBM's artificial intelligence(AI), code name ROSS, to handle in-depth legal support and researching for their bankruptcy practice, which at the moment consists of 50 living, breathing lawyers. ROSS is a cognitive computing AI built on IBM's parent learning-machine platform, Watson.
Don't let the inconspicuous schoolboy name fool you. ROSS is "the world's first artificially intelligent attorney" that was programmed by some of Silicon Valley's best crop of sweatshirt-wearing, chai-chugging engineers. How powerful is it? ROSS is now officially the world's first computerized lawyer to be hired on-staff by a law firm that touts a century-old history for excellently "serving" the country's most misbehaved.
How exactly will ROSS play the part of an attorney? ROSS was designed to read and understand multiple languages, postulate hypotheses to questions and research/generate responses by providing extensive references to support its conclusions. The scary thing is, because ROSS is a fast learner, he becomes more efficient and creative with added experience. As legal cases are often fought and won before ever entering the court, the greatest proportion of a lawyer's job(apart from hitting up the gents' club and douching it out in a local country club dressed like Zac Effron) is shifting through the drudgery of endless archives of legal precedence and cases. ROSS instantly eases this process as it exponentially minimizes the time needed for arriving at the most relevant answers while also keeping users up-to-date with real-time developments in the legal system.
Imagine for a second(a very happy second indeed) that you're a CEO of a law firm. You have an associate that can spit out heavily researched answers on command. He doesn't need a lunch break, smoke-break, hates Hawaii and doesn't whine about stock options. Best employee ever.
We react to this development with mixed feelings. Remember the uproar that AlphaGo caused when he beat the immortal Lee Se-dol in a best out 5 series of Go? We are at once amazed by an AI's cognitive ability to to think, learn and develop and also scared of the creeping realization that eventually, AIs may replace us all. ROSS can't take on new clients or coordinate an entire case but he is still likely to be a "simultaneously welcome reprieve for recent grads at Baker & Hostetler - unless, of course these young hires are ultimately replaced by AI."
As discomforting as it may be, the efficiency, speed and accuracy of AIs clearly trump a fresh law-school graduate who in contrast needs training, adjustment time and dental. Perhaps the sci-fi depictions of a human vs. AI civil conflict is a future that may be "courting" our footsteps very soon. Call up Will Smith. War is upon us.