There's more to legal artificial intelligence than IBM Watson

August 5 2015 5 August 2015

One of the topics up for discussion at the upcoming CBA Legal Conference in Calgary, is the impact that artificial intelligence will have on the economic model of law firms.  One of the panelists (Omar Ha-Redeye, Dera Nevin and Ian Kerr are the others), Noah Waisberg of Kira Systems, recently wrote a post arguing that, in spite of all the attention generated by IBM’s Watson, it is too early to say that it is the leading AI technology in the legal industry:

Winning Jeopardy! is great, but there have been many other very impressive machine learning feats, including self driving cars; translation, including of live speech; and writing decent enough quality news articles that human reviewers could not necessarily tell the difference. Even on question answering, was Ken Jennings easy competition at Jeopardy! relative to a different current AI system like Google DeepMind?

Moving past Jeopardy!, IBM may be putting significant resources into Watson, but other companies are doing the same. Some equally large companies to IBM, including Google, HP, Facebook, and Baidu, are also putting a lot of resources into machine learning. Why will IBM beat them? Why will IBM even beat out newer AI focused startups such as DeepMind (bought by Google in 2014 for $650 Million), MetaMind, or many others? IBM itself appears to recoginize that others are building valuable machine learning technology, acquiring deep learning focused AlchemyAPI in May

Lots of companies are building AI technology for specific verticals (like us with contract review). Current machine learning is quite problem-specific, and these companies are getting experience honing their technology for their particular use cases. Will Watson’s technology really be better for specific verticals than companies focused on those specific verticals? Would you use Watson for eDiscovery ahead of offerings from companies who have been focused on that challenge for years? Will Watson do machine learning fraud detection better than well-funded Sift Science? Or movie recommendation better than Netflix? Will Watson even be better on legal research than something Thomson Reuters builds? IBM may be a lot bigger than TR, but TR is not small and has to nail this, whereas IBM does not need to get legal research right.

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Source: There's more to legal artificial intelligence than IBM Watson

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