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The End of Lawyers, Period.


Stashed in: Lawyers!, Turing, Robot Jobs, Robot Jobs, IBM

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Thinky jobs like lawyering might be dying even faster than manual labor jobs like filling potholes. Bring it on Watson... bring it on.

Can we really replace most lawyers with machines?

Automation anxiety is fairly acute in legal (or, maybe, it just seems that way because that is where I spend my time). The 2015 Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition survey (PDF) asked managing partners if a law-focused Watson would replace timekeepers—just as technology has displaced legal secretaries, seemingly permanently. Only 20 percent responded that computers will never replace human practitioners. That was down from 46 percent when the same question was posed to the same group in 2011, the year Watson first won Jeopardy! As always, there is counterprogramming like the recent New York Times’ Bits blog post “The End of Lawyers? Not So Fast.” that, among other sources, cites to a draft study Can Robots Be Lawyers? which, while not yet for quotation, seems destined to conclude that the popular accounts of the potential displacement of lawyers by automation are a bit overblown.

I recently read a short story from a 2001 Science Fiction & Fantasy magazine about a future where a computer algorithm was created to be judge, prosecutor, and defense for all cases, except the very rich whom would hire live human lawyers.  The person having their criminal case heard was part of a resistance movement, he had committed the crime on purpose to try to challenge the program, and get it to come to a draw, or deadlock on his case, thus showing the program was not infallible. 

I think I still would go for the computer version, seems like it would be more fair, and cost less, at least one would think.

But is there a way to appeal if it decides against you?

Humans have mercy. I'm not sure machines can have mercy. 

I think mercy could be programmed. It would be a balance, you want the program to have compassion, take things in the story into consideration, but you don't want to go too far, and have it be a sucker that is easily played ;)

Well that would require the machine to have the same sophisticated nuance that humans have.

To do that we would need machines that have free will.

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