Artificial intelligence (AI) will be in widespread use by tomorrow’s law businesses, serving clients who will be mobile users of “digital personal assistants” that use holographic displays and respond to the thoughts of their owners, according to US futurologists.
The predictions were among the interim findings of a massive global research project launched this week to look at how technology will affect the practice of law over the next decade and beyond.
The Future horizons project is the brainchild of the Texas-based International Legal Technology Association (ILTA), a legal IT networking organisation whose president is Michele Gossmeyer, head of global information management at international law firm Dentons. The project is described as a “thought leadership initiative focused on the future of technology for the legal sector”.
At the core of the project – sponsored by corporations including Microsoft, Mimecast and Thomson Reuters – is a global research study which will look at the potential impact of new and emerging technologies for law firms and what they are likely to mean over the next 10-15 years.
Project manager Rohit Talwar, chief executive of consultancy Fast Future Research, said its purpose “is really to help people in law firms, and their technologists in particular, to get a sense of the key technology development that could be coming in the next 10 years or so and how they could impact the practice of law, the internal operations of law firms, and the way in which law firms work with their clients”.
He continued that he hoped it would inspire firms to think about the way legal technology “is creating new services, business models, new ways of working with the customer; it is about getting more law firm technology practices really thinking about how technology can create transformative change in the legal sector”.
Several themes have already emerged from the research, said Mr Talwar. Many of the key processes of law firms are likely to be transformed by “rapidly accelerating advances in areas such as a mobile computing and communications, deep personalisation, wearable and embedded technology, AI, big data, predictive analytics, collaborative technologies, knowledge management, automatic translation and smart user interfaces.”
Elaborating on these innovations, Mr Talwar’s interim Future horizons report, published at the end of last month, suggested that the role of technology in tomorrow’s legal business will be affected by: customers using sophisticated wearable devices with holographic displays, supported by “intelligent digital personal assistants” and “AI-enabled smart interfaces”, which respond to users’ “gestures, language and thought”.
The way lawyers relate to clients “could be enhanced through deep collaboration environments, portals, shared databases, telepresence robots [which allow people to move virtually through a building and interact with people there by remotely controlling a wheeled robot], advanced videoconferencing, touchable holographs, novel data handling tools and sophisticated security technology”.
Meanwhile, law firm processes “could be transformed through developments in AI, knowledge management, the smart capture and analysis of data, predictive analytics, intelligent document production systems, video and audio mining, integrated analytics and true gamification” – using computer game techniques to solve problems.
The report added: “Emerging technologies could bring about dramatic changes in the way cases are conducted and information is analysed and presented back to clients.”
Final research findings are due to be presented at an ILTA event in London on 14 November.