Sunday, October 11, 2015

№ 221. Virtual Lawyering

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." --- Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities

What is out there for the once and future lawyer?

Emails are so mid-90s. Google has grown up and morphed into a teenage giant. Social networks are slowly plateauing. Wireless, and its many iterations, is almost the humdrum norm, circa 2015, except maybe for my desktop office.

Research has definitely become much cheaper, easier and faster with online searches, cloud libraries and offshore databases ---- at varying price points and for staggeringly diverse niches. But at what price? Matching principle states that there's always a cost associated with the benefit.

How can a practitioner push the envelop further? How can the practice throttle farther into virtual super-efficiency, and, profitability? Despite the nobility our trade professes to have, it still needs the flow of wealth to fund payrolls, cultivate the practice and delight staff with bonuses and largesse.

Words of caution though for one caught up in the possibilities of singularity and its utopian pledges: "It is important to remember that all the technology in the world does not replace a lawyer’s mind (yet). Understanding the law and how to implement strategies to obtain best results for clients is still front and center. Technology is a vehicle that helps lawyers deliver these services." (Attorney at Work)

Technology. Still a means towards a greater end. A handmaiden to the gatekeepers. Will she ever be an end in herself?

Harvard Lampoon

October 20, 2015

Will technology be the master of humans soon? Or will humankind continue to be the measure and master of all created things as he/she/it wrote in Genesis (no disrespect to all who believe that the book is inspired). Or will he/she/it lose out to a creature he/she/it originally created to serve and worship him/her/it?

Is disruption, caused or enabled by technology, something we should be concerned about? Human obsolescence in many life aspects is creeping in much faster. But so what? There is an ocean of skills, capabilities and potentials that are still beyond the grip of technology. Futurist predict that the tide will soon turn and singularity is just a short fall from the horizon.

To continue the conversation I started last week, I read The End of Expertise. It tackled the impact of Artificial Intelligence on professional work and noted the increasing commoditization of expertise (KISS: professional  Knowledge, Information, Skills and Services). However, it is still mildly apologetic of the status humans have over these creeping invasions. Thus:

"'Being human,' then, becomes a real hope for continued differentiation within the business of expertise, where the familiarity of the expert with the client, and access to the key expertise consumers at the right time and place are critical sources of value in the delivery of such knowledge. Could it be, that after several decades of managerial professionalism arguing that “what you know” is more important than “who you know,” we are suddenly right back where we started from; where successful expertise provision depends more upon such “soft skills” as Intimacy and Self-Orientation, than it does upon Credibility and Reliability? Or, rather, since the advent of AI and algorithmic thinking have now made Credibility and Reliability tickets to the game rather than real differentiators, that it will be how expertise is delivered, and to whom, that will become the real source of premiums in the expertise business?"

Here's an entertaining cap to the many themes (creator v. creature; humanity v. technology; God v. man) of this blog: Ex Machina. Enjoy =)

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