2018 A Legal Research Odyssey

Law Library Journal has accepted my manuscript for 2018 A Legal Research Odyssey: Artificial Intelligence as Disruptor



The abstract:
Cognitive computing is revolutionizing finance through the ability to combine structured and unstructured data and provide precise market analysis. It is also revolutionizing medicine by providing well-informed options for diagnoses. Analogously, ROSS, a progeny of IBM’s Watson, is set to revolutionize the legal field by bringing cognitive computing to legal research. While ROSS is currently being touted as possessing the requisite sophistication to perform effortless legal research, there is a real danger in a technology like ROSS causing premature disruption. As in medicine and finance, cognitive computing has the power to make legal research more efficient. But the technology is not ready to replace the need for law students to learn sound legal research process and strategy. When done properly, legal research is a highly creative skill that requires a deep level of analysis. Law librarians must infuse law students with an understanding of legal research process, as well as instruct on the practical aspects of using artificial intelligence responsibly in the face of algorithmic transparency, the duty of technology competence, malpractice pitfalls, and the unauthorized practice of law.

The article is helpful for its in-depth discussion of DeepQA and natural language processing, and how these technologies are being used in the various professions, including law. The article also discusses the notion of premature disruption -- whereby the technology is not truly ready to do what the PR campaigns tout.

It goes on to discuss the various pitfalls associated with the use of algorithms in law, including ethical considerations such as:
Ultimately, the article posits that law librarians are in the best position to teach on the various issues surrounding the use of algorithms in law because we are often on the frontlines of teaching how to use the very technologies that employ the use of algorithms in legal research. It goes on to state that with so much at stake, law librarians must take their role seriously of assessing and curating information quality and teaching prospective lawyers to do the same. 

Look for it in the Winter 2018 edition of the Law Library Journal!

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