The AI Lawyer Starts Billing Hours


What it means and why it’s a good thing for the legal community and society.

By Brooks Lindsay

You may have heard recently about the development of the artificial intelligence (AI) lawyer, “ROSS” by the creators of IBM’s Watson. Well, the synthetic lawyer was just hired by law firm Baker & Hostetler. This post attempts to explain what the AI lawyer is, what it can do, how it will change the legal community, and why it’s good for the legal community and society.

ROSS is built on IBM’s cognitive computer Watson, a supercomputer that recently strutted its stuff by beating Jeopardy phenom Ken Jennings. The AI lawyer is capable of reading and understanding language, generating thoughtful legal analysis, synthesizing thousands of case results into precise answers, postulating legal hypotheses, and providing citations along the way. It can also monitor legal news and notify attorneys when, for example, a favorable ruling is delivered on a relevant case.

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What Can a Foul-Mouthed Twitter Troll and a Board Game Playing Robot Tell Us About Artificial Intelligence’s Ramifications for the Legal System?

AIBy Jeff Bess

Rapid technological development in the digital age has disrupted countless industries and fundamentally reshaped many aspects of modern life. Many of these technologies also present legal challenges; ranging from Constitutional privacy concerns stemming from government surveillance, to ongoing employment law disputes about companies’, like Uber, use of independent contractors. A perhaps even greater disruptor – to both the law and society in general – is found in the emerging field of Artificial Intelligence. There have been numerous scholarly inquiries into theoretical challenges of creating a moral and legal framework to govern Artificial Intelligence technologies, but recent accomplishments in the field can provide clues as to how the direction of the technology will inform necessary legal rules. Continue reading

Prove It or Lose It: The FTC’s Standard for Scientific Support of Medical App Claims

Medical-Apps-in-HealthcareBy Julie Liu

Among the countless mobile applications that allow us to control much of our lives, the growing wave of medical apps allows us to manage and improve our health with the convenience of a phone or tablet. But, as illustrated by the Federal Trade Commission’s approval of its final order against the maker of the UltimEyes app, this possibility comes with important limitations. Continue reading

A Glimpse into the Future: Driverless Cars Have Arrived

teslaBy Naazaneen Hodjat

To much fanfare, Tesla Motors announced the release of its Autopilot version 7.0 which effectively allows its Model S to use a “combination of cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors and data to automatically steer down the highway, change lanes, and adjust speed in response to traffic.” Tesla’s Chief Executive Officer, Elon Musk, describes the Autopilot program as a “profound experience for its drivers” —one that “when owners try it out and see the car drive [by itself] they’re blown away.”

The Tesla Autopilot program aims to increase the driver’s confidence behind the wheel by reducing the driver’s workload and helping the car avoid hazards—significantly improving driver safety. Its Autosteer technology allows for hands-free and pedal-free driving on the highway. The new program, however, does not read traffic lights or poorly marked roads and is programmed to relinquish control back to the driver if it loses confidence in its ability to drive safely. The Autopilot also contains an Auto Lane Change feature—the driver must simply engage the turn signal and the Autopilot will move itself over to the adjacent lane when it is safe to do so. Finally, the program has an Autopark function that enables the car to scan the surroundings of a parking spot and parallel park itself. Although the Autopilot program allows Tesla sedans to steer and park themselves, Musk warns that Tesla drivers are expected to stay engaged while driving. In fact, owners are instructed to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times. Tesla cautions drivers against trusting its Autopilot program too much and reminds drivers that they are still responsible. Continue reading

Taking (Away) Your TV Shows To-Go

ImageBy Amy Wang

Last week, Hulu announced that it will extend video streaming services this summer—and disrupt already low summertime productivity—by providing free, full TV episodes and movies on mobile devices, a feature normally reserved for Hulu Plus subscribers and limited to select clips. Although this is probably a temporary, promotional stunt to boost subscribership, the announcement comes just a week after the U.S. Supreme Court considered the legal implications of a similar video streaming service.

On Tuesday, April 22, 2014, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for American Broadcasting Company, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc—for a thorough discussion of the case, see our winter publication. The premise of the case focuses on Aereo’s business model. The company provides its subscribers (currently, limited to NYC residents) unique technology: each subscriber is assigned a small antenna located at Aereo’s facility which captures and records live TV broadcasts and re-distributes them to the subscribers’ devices over the Internet. Subscribers can then watch shows live on their mobile devices, stop, and pick up the same programming when they get home on their tablet, computer, or TV. Continue reading