I wrote a post last week in which I called for a moratorium on the term Artificial Intelligence in relation to the law.  Instead I suggested that you should just replace AI with the term Automation because “they’re exactly the same thing, at least as far as the current legal market is concerned.”

Some people took me to task for over-simplifying the issue. Fair. Some seemed to think that I didn’t understand that AI and Automation were separate things, and they helpfully sent me links to Wikipedia pages and dictionary definitions of AI.  Very kind, but unnecessary.  I assure you, I understand the differences.

My underlying point – and admittedly I sometimes meander on my way to getting there, which can cause confusion, consternation, and even anger among my less patient readers – was that, much of what we call artificial intelligence in the legal industry is simply the automation of historically manual processes.  And if we refer to these things as “Automation” instead of “Artificial Intelligence” we are more likely to have intelligent, thoughtful, and meaningful conversations about the future of legal practice, than we are to run screaming through the halls, crying uncontrollably, and tearing out our hair for fear of the robots coming for our jobs.

I know many of you will find this hard to believe, as I usually revel in setting verbal fires, but my goal in abandoning “Artificial Intelligence” as a term was to improve the overall quality of discourse surrounding the use of Artificial Intelligence in the practice of law.

John Alber, former Strategic Innovation Partner at Bryan Cave and current Futurist-in-Residence for ILTA, called me out for over-simplifying.

Arrgh!  Fine. I’m not going to fight with John, he was the first person I ever met and an ILTA conference and, more relevantly, he’s right.  So I suggested an alternative.

But Kenneth Grady, former CEO of SeyfarthLean and current Legal Future Evangelist rightfully suggested:

So I stewed.  Pushed it to the back of my mind and focused on other far less interesting, but more profitable things like work. Until today during lunch, when I was reading an article on Augmented Reality and it suddenly hit me.  The middle ground between Artificial Intelligence and Automation is Augmented Intelligence.

I suggested this alternative to my twitter colleagues and Kenneth Grady helpfully suggested the addition of Human.

And there it was, the term I was looking for.

Augmented. Human. Intelligence.  #AHI

It’s much less hysteria inducing than the term Artificial Intelligence.  And arguably, it’s a more accurate representation of what is happening now in the computer assisted practice of law.

So, today I am calling for a moratorium on the term Artificial Intelligence in the practice of law (unless you are actually talking about a Turing machine that bills by the hour), because whether we’re discussing Watson, Ross, Kira, or Kim, we’re talking about Augmented Human Intelligence.

Photo of Ryan McClead Ryan McClead

Ryan is Principal at Sente Advisors, a legal technology consultancy specializing in innovation strategy and cross-platform solutions and support.  He has been an evangelist, advocate, consultant, and creative thinker in Legal Technology for more than 15 years. In 2015, he was named a FastCase 50 recipient, and in 2018, he was elected a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. In past lives, he was an Innovation Architect, Knowledge Manager, a Systems Analyst, a Fashion Merchandiser, and Theater Composer, among other things.