Today, my 6-year-old daughter was playing with her new best friend, Siri. For the 2% of you uninitiated readers out there, Siri is the “intelligent personal assistant” inside every Iphone® and other Apple® devices. Siri serves many functions, such as placing phone calls, sending text messages and taking photos, all via voice command. The reason my daughter was so enchanted by Siri today is simply because they could converse ad inifinitum.
In addition to fulfilling commands on the phone like setting reminders and launching various apps, Siri also answers open-ended questions. Some answers are found on the internet by Siri’s due diligence research and other questions have pre-programmed replies. For example, when my daughter asked Siri, “where do you live?” the response was “I am wherever you are.” So when I queried, “so where, exactly is she?” my daughter simply responded, straight-faced, “she’s right here” and then sort of waved her hand around in the airspace between where she and I sat.
There has been much discussion over the last decade or two insinuating that the world’s lawyers will be replaced by robots. Here’s just one of many articles on the topic. Excellent document review software is one case in point. When a lawyer needs to review hundreds of thousands of documents (or more) including emails conversations, contracts, and other potentially significant data, an electronically-programmed “pair of eyes” to do just that is much more efficient than a human being. Machines don’t get tired, need lunch breaks, or have commitments to previous engagements during the workweek. They do make mistakes, but so do people and the latter group probably more often when the documents to be reviewed are especially dry.
However, it is still my firm belief that lawyers will always be needed on the scene. The whole premise of litigation is that there are two sides to every story. Siri does not give two different answers to the same question. Not yet, at least. The creation of litigation strategies requires a human mind. Proper negotiation and mediation demand a tough advocate who can evaluate and reevaluate a client’s situation on the spot considering numerous variables including human feelings. And perhaps most importantly, clients look for a lawyer they can trust. While machines and robots are predictable and efficient, Siri doesn’t give hugs. Artificial intelligence lawyering will never completely vitiate a client’s need to enjoy a trusting relationship with his or her legal representative, in human form.
Lawyer and legal writer, Julie worked primarily in real estate law before focusing her career on the social media and marketing aspects of the legal industry.