Ron Friedman recently posted the following video to twitter.

Ron and I have talked about this a lot, going back to my AI posts last December when
I suggested that we stop using the term Artificial Intelligence in
legal because it causes more confusion, consternation, and general
trouble than it’s worth.

First, to answer Ron’s
question, why all the AI hype in the legal market?  The AI hype isn’t
happening in the legal market.  It’s happening throughout the world. 
It’s now in our homes with Nest Thermostats and Hue light bulbs.  It’s in
our pockets with Siri, and in our offices with Alexa. It’s the basis of
one of the most engrossing shows on HBO right now, Westworld.  And we
still have brilliant people like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking warning
that AI will likely kill us if we don’t take precautions. What we’re
seeing in the legal market is just bleeding-through from the massive
hype happening in the rest of the world.  And I think it’s all about to
come crashing down.  We will shortly enter into the great Trough of
Disillusionment for AI.

I don’t say that because I
think AI will fail to live up to its promise.  On the contrary, I think
AI will way outstrip our current expectations.  However, we humans are
fickle.  Our expectations shift quickly. Louis C.K. explains it best in
his routine about Airplane WiFi
In the AI space, this same fickle attitude leads to an interesting
phenomenon, over time we adjust what we believe qualifies as AI.  The
more common a technology becomes the less we believe it to be Artificial
Intelligence. 

Google isn’t considered AI, but it
‘knows’ what you’re typing as you type, and then it filters a large
portion of the web to give you the most relevant pages.  It would have
easily been seen as AI twenty years ago.  Siri and Alexa personal
assistants respond to voice commands and can return information
instantly or actually perform tasks online, but they are considered
borderline AI at best these days. Completely self-driving automobiles
are still seen as Science Fiction and therefore are solidly in the AI
column, but I predict they will NOT widely be considered AI by the time
they are commercially available.  AI is a moving target. By the time a
technology is commercialized it’s no longer considered Artificial
Intelligence.  Consequently, we fickle humans are consistently
underwhelmed by the promise of AI even as AI fundamentally changes the
world around us.

The same is happening in legal right
now.  AI is all over the place from e-discovery to contract review, due
diligence, and data extraction, to my own company’s expert system platform.  (Oh, BTW.  I’ve got another new job since
last I wrote.) But the more we see of it, the less we believe it to
truly represent Artificial Intelligence.  AI is always just beyond the
horizon.  Just on the other side of the next technological
breakthrough.  It’s always something just slightly better than what we
can do right now.

So I say, “Don’t buy into the
AI hype!”  Not because AI is not real, but because hyperbolic
expectations for AI lead to a belief in ‘magical technology’. And
expectations of ‘magic yet to come’ will prevent you from taking
advantage of the remarkable and capable technology that is absolutely available
today. 

It’s not ‘Artificial’ Intelligence, it’s Your Intelligence: Augmented, Enhanced, and Multiplied.

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Photo of Ryan McClead Ryan McClead

Ryan is an executive at a small, but well-known legal technology company. Prior to his jump to the vendor side, he served for 3 years as Legal Technology Innovation Architect at Norton Rose Fulbright, running Technology Innovation projects around the world. His sense of humor and remarkable tolerance for verbal and psychological abuse has gotten him through more than 15 years in Legal Technology. In 2015, McClead 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 a Knowledge Manager, a Systems Analyst, an “IT Guy”, a Fashion Merchandiser and Theater Composer.