Does Your Database Need A Law Degree?

While contemplating the major legal database algorithms recently, I realized that the current generation of searchers might rely too heavily on the results without really understanding how those results are generated. 

There could be a point in time when the algorithms become sophisticated enough with an artificial intelligence (AI) to rely on them more in this way. Especially because algorithms tend to get stronger over time by relying on external cites and the number of clicks, for example, to generate results. 

But we are not there, yet. For example, with a current natural language search, the databases may look for synonyms for a particular keyword. But the synonym may be replacing a term of art for which a synonym should not be used, and this "helpful" function of the database actually becomes a hindrance offering irrelevant results. 

This is good news for lawyers and librarians because the algorithms do not have the AI necessary to interpret case law, evaluate it, and contextualize it. This means that librarians and lawyers will be necessary well into the future. 

That is unless our databases get the AI equivalent of a law degree. There is a new book out called "The Formula" by Luke Dormehl that "tackles the rise of algorithms and artificial intelligence in art, politics, online relationships, and the law."

The book provides a high level view of how algorithms are changing our world. For lawyers, there are obvious political and legal implications that will need to be hammered out in the coming years.
As Dormehl notes, we need to educate the public on what exactly algorithms are and how they work, which is one of the major new roles of a librarian

Ultimately, Dormehl went on to discuss the ability for computers to replace lawyers and judges. He said that "if you were able to build a conceptual model of Judge Posner that would be 99 percent accurate in forecasting how he would decide a certain case, you could rely on that to decide cases rather than the person himself. But we're not there yet—and perhaps we never will be. As a nonlawyer, one of the great realizations I had while writing “The Formula” was the degree to which laws are not static entities that can easily be automated. The judicial process is less about a kind of mechanical objectivity than it is a high level of subjective agreement. It takes a human to resolve multiple parties' grievances, and to reconcile different interpretations of laws that are often written in such a way that their meaning can be argued. Machines can't do that yet."


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