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Seven Things Lawyers Should Know to Be Digital Winners

Many lawyers and law experts worry about how their professional opportunities are changing with digitalization, observing how some daily tasks are already being taken over by digital automation and artificial intelligence, AI.

And yes, the ongoing change in the legal sector is significant, and moreover, it only just started. The good news, however, is that you shouldn’t worry if you develop an understanding of this change and if you build a personal strategy based on that understanding.

To give you some help on that journey, I will share some important advice, grown from my daily focus on technology and digitalization and its impact on businesses and on society through many years.

Before getting to the advice (jump down if you’re in a hurry), let me just highlight three core pieces of the digitalization puzzle that many people struggle to put together.

First of all, remember that digitalization has become a hyped term, meaning all and everything. And instead of scratching the surface, looking at apps and social networks strategies, try to focus on what really makes digitalization a powerful driving force for change.

These three aspects of digitalization are fundamental:

  1. The cost of a digital copy is basically zero, and you reach the whole world with one click. This means that once you have digitalized content, tools, processes, products, services or methods, you can spread them over the world at a very low cost. This is what makes traditional business models break, pushing a shift from owning to accessing, among other things. Think of how the music industry went from owning discs to accessing music, but also of any kind of digital tool in the legal sector.
  2. People—it is people using, investigating, and taking advantage of the low cost of digital material and the possibilities of reaching the world, that really makes digitalization explode and disrupt many industries. And since the Internet is not hierarchical, people are networking, connecting with individuals all across the world, changing the way we organize, collaborate, build things, provide funding, distribute news, recruit collaborators and much more. And people are already building network inspired legal services, such as Swedish Lawline.
  3. Algorithms and AI. Algorithms are what let Amazon effectively tip you off with ‘Customers who bought this item also bought…’ while AI, which is now evolving rapidly, adds a why-dimension to that kind of advice, making it possible to answer more complex questions. Both can be learning, making them richer, more accurate or individually adapted over time.

In the legal space, the use of algorithms and AI is spreading quickly (remember that they are spreading and evolving because of point 1 and 2 above).

Key areas are:

  • Research tools—such as ROSS, built on IBM’s system Watson that won over humans in Jeopardy in 2011. ROSS answers advanced legal questions in plain language.
  • Contract Review—AI-based tools that assist attorneys in analyzing contracts and other legal documents, pulling out key points of interest. One example is Extract by the UK based company RAVN.
  • Electronic Discovery—tools for technology-assisted review, aka TAR, helping attorneys with the hugely time-consuming work of going through documents, searching for relevant facts, cases, relationships and more.
  • Prediction—AI-based tools that effectively predict the outcome of a case, court decisions and more, based on the currently available information. These tools help to assess whether it’s worth pursuing a case or not.

On top of these, there are other areas, such as tools for assisting courts with certain tasks. Meanwhile, important research is being done to verify that bias is not integrated into such tools—the systems are prone to bias since they learn from data that might be biased.

As you can see, digital technology is starting to transform the legal sector, and yet this is only the beginning. So, as a legal professional, how can you prepare for, and take advantage of this change? Here we go.

Seven digital tips to lawyers:

  1. Start discussing digitalization in you organization, in particular with the top management, which has to understand its importance and be ready to take action. If the top management doesn’t show this understanding, consider searching for a new job. Your company or organization will be in trouble.
  2. Start investigating digital and AI based legal tools on the market, and learn about them. Remember that such tools will help legal professionals to work faster and more efficiently through automation, and those who are learning ahead of others will be winners.
  3. Collaborate with machines. No, machines won’t steal your job, at least not for a good while. In contrast, collaboration with machines is a winning formula. The best chess teams are humans together with computers, and that will be true in most other areas. So investigate how you can collaborate and build a team with legal AI-based systems.
  4. Get rid of boring work. Ask yourself which of your daily tasks you wouldn’t mind at all if a machine would do for you. Most repetitive work is boring, and the good thing is that machines are particularly good at repetitive tasks. Let them do it and free your time for work you find more interesting.
  5. Remain better than machines. Four main areas will be the most difficult for machines to master: Creativity, ability to convince and motivate other people, empathy, and fine dexterity. Find out which of your work tasks are related to any of those areas and try to develop them further.
  6. Get more social. Remember that the Internet helps people connect, peer-to-peer, across the world. Use and develop this opportunity in your work, and reinforce your informal networks, not only in the legal sector.
  7. Beware of digital strategies. Don’t contribute to building digital strategies that risk remaining a separate component of an organization’s operations. Essentially, digital technology is just a new tool and as any other technology it changes the conditions for what you’re doing. What’s particular with digital technology is that it’s a hugely powerful driver for change and it requires an adaptation to the new conditions—of everything from organization and sales to the main business model. Any digital strategy including less is not enough.

In other words—digital is an opportunity in the legal space, and the earlier you investigate its opportunities, the bigger the chance that you will be a digital winner.

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Note: I also do seminars and workshops on digital transformation, and if you want a deeper look at digitalization, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Also, feel free to register for the legal innovation event VQ Forum, on October 19, 2017, where I will give a keynote on ‘digitalization—a threat or an opportunity.’

Been a bit busy—will soon be back

For various reasons—mostly positive—I have been a bit busy the last year and not so active on this blog.

In particular, I have dedicated a lot of my time to following the ever increasing flow of interesting news on technology and its implications on society, organisations and individuals, continuously sharing much of this on my Twitter feed, on my Facebook page and on LinkedIn.

However, I plan to be back soon with some fresh posts here on the blog, so please stay tuned.

Thanks for visiting.

Announcing the New Energy World Symposium

News-blue-text-dateNote: The New Energy World Symposium was cancelled on April 15, 2016. A re-scheduled symposium might be possible. Read more here. 

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Today I’m announcing the New Energy World Symposium that will hold its first session on June 21, 2016, in Stockholm Sweden.

The conference will focus on the disruptive consequences of a new cheap, clean, carbon-free and abundant energy source—LENR or Cold Fusion—that may literally change the world, promising Planet Earth clean water, zero-emission vehicles with unlimited mileage, a solution to the climate crisis and much more.

I’m particularly proud to announce a few of the renowned speakers who together with me believe that it’s high time to draw global attention to this subject.

Read more in this blog post at the symposium’s main website new-symposium.org, where you will also find further information.

Give your organisation an injection of inspiration on digitisation

The AI based cognitive system Amelia by IP Soft is a digital assistant that communicates and learns through natural language—an example of technology that already is far more than just a tool, pushing the change that technology brings to our world.

The AI based cognitive system Amelia by IP Soft is a digital assistant that communicates and learns through natural language—an example of technology that already is far more than just a tool, pushing the change that technology brings to our world.

As I give talks on future and technology—or rather before I give my talks—I often meet people saying they feel that we’re entering a time of big changes, and yet they seem to have difficulties in defining exactly what this change is. They might refer to the fast uptake of smartphones, tablets and social media, but they probably realise that this is not the most important aspect.

I believe that there are two reasons for the difficulty to see the real power in the change technology brings—a change that will eventually affect every industry and every business, and every individual too.

One reason is that most people still consider technology as a tool, that does
things we want it to do, be it a wrench or a computer. They don’t realise that technology today is so penetrating and fast developing that it has become a driving force for change in itself, more than ever before—and also more irresistible than other technologies that brought earlier fundamental changes to society such as the industrialisation, since today’s technology is so ubiquitous and easily available.

The other reason is that people tend to be amazed at what technology can do today, without taking into account further development, which is also accelerating. This brings an illusion that things will be as they are for some time. But change will never be as slow again. 

This is also why it’s so challenging for most companies and organisations to start adapting to digitisation. Often such projects become action plans involving new strategies for some apps or for social media, but in the long run this is just scratching the surface of the digital revolution.

Until everyone in the organisation, employees and top management, has understood the explosive and unstoppable power of digital technology, it’s unlikely that that strategies and action plans will be profound enough to keep up with the accelerating pace of change.

That’s why it’s so satisfying bringing up the fundamental aspects of digitisation in seminars, describing not just what technology is, but what it does and what it means. It gives everyone an injection of inspiration on digitisation—how it works, what it means—and on all revolutionary new opportunities that will affect—and benefit—them. That is the real starting point for a valid action plan, the first steps towards new ideas and new business opportunities—faster, more efficient and more profitable.

I note that people are amazed when I describe the power of the accelerating pace of technology development, with Moore’s law describing the doubling of power of information technology every second year, being live and kicking still after 50 years—not to mention that a similar ‘law’ has been valid for billions of years. Only that the real explosion is starting right now, with strong artificial intelligence—machine intelligence at the level of humans—being realised within only 15 or 20 years.

I see that it’s useful for people to understand the seven mechanisms that make digitisation so disruptive—from zero cost of a copy changing fundamental economic models, to the little explored potential in mixing digital content between industries and businesses to create completely new products and services.

And it’s effective to get an insight in the different ways that digitisation is about to transform a series of industries, just like the music industry was disrupted—from education and healthcare to finance, law and transportation. Not to mention Industry 4.0—the new data based industry phase, following disruption from steam, electricity and electronics.

In the end however, it’s easy to get trapped and almost spellbound by all the new opportunities technology offers, and therefore also easy to forget who we are—humans, with dreams, visions, passions and values.

This might be the most important part to realise when starting to adapt to digitisation and accelerating technologies. Because these are aspects of us that we have developed over millions of years, aspects that can help us make the best out of technology driven change—something that moves in harmony and not in conflict with us, both as individuals and as a society.

In the end, this will also be hugely important when we in the coming two decades will have to adapt to a world where jobs are disappearing, being automated and performed by intelligent systems and robots. Our ideas about work and about what to do with our lives will then have to change fundamentally—a change that might bring amazing opportunities if society adapts in time, and if we as individuals are ready to grasp and understand these opportunities, remembering who we are as human beings. •••

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This post was originally posted on Linkedin.

One step closer to long distance private drones

plane3-in-flight

PhD student Andrew Barry from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab has developed a detect-and-avoid system that lets drones fly autonomously through a tree-filled field at a speed close to 30 mph.

The system operates at 120 frames per second and is running 20 times faster than existing software.

In Sweden, flying out of sight with drones is not permitted with ordinary drones, even though many people do, using what is called First Person View, FPV, which means that the pilot looks through video glasses showing the image from a camera on the drone. With a good radio link it’s possible to fly tens of miles away.

What’s required for out-of-sight flight, according to Swedish rules, is an on-board detect-and-avoid system, and the system developed by Barry could be one step towards cheap and commercially available such systems.

Flying much farther away would then also be possible. It has been shown that drones can be controlled using signals through commercial cell phone networks, which means that you could basically fly a private drone on the other side of the world.

Former Skype founders rethink local delivery

starship-technologies-delivery-robot-designboom-03-818x408

Former Skype founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis aim at reshaping local small scale delivery with the company Starship Technologies and this small autonomous device, moving at four miles per hour. The plan is to offer local delivery from the grocery store or retailers, or last-mile delivery of goods arriving to local hubs with ordinary carriers, at prices 10 to 15 times less than the cost of current last-mile delivery alternatives. Local point to point delivery is also an option.

Shoppers can follow the robot’s position through an app which is also used to unlock the lid of the robot.

The first pilot services are planned for UK, US and some other countries in 2016.

Digitisation of transportation is already coming through driverless cars, bringing big changes in car ownership, parking, traffic optimisation, city planning, logistics, taxi services and much more. Starship Technologies’ robot could add to that process, being much cheaper than a larger vehicle, and yet much easier to handle, more energy efficient and with bigger load capacity than drones.

Swedish scientists claim LENR explanation break-through

rickardlundin_photo_Torbjörn_Lövgren_IRF

Rickard Lundin, credit: Torbjörn Lövgren, IRF.

Essentially no new physics but a little-known physical effect describing matter’s interaction with electromagnetic fields — ponderomotive Miller forces — would explain energy release and isotopic changes in LENR. This is what Rickard Lundin and Hans Lidgren, two top level Swedish scientists, claim, describing their theory in a paper called Nuclear Spallation and Neutron Capture Induced by Ponderomotive Wave Forcing (full length paper here) that will be presented on Friday, October 16, at the 11th International Workshop on Anomalies in 
Hydrogen Loaded Metals, hosted by Airbus in Toulouse, France.

From the conclusions of the paper:

“This report demonstrates, theoretically and experimentally, that nuclear energy production may be accommodated in rather small units, operating at modest temperatures (≈900-2000°C), and produce sustainable power output in the range 1 – 10 kW – at minute fuel consumption (few grams per year). (…) The magnitude of the power output, delivered from a miniscule amount of fuel, demonstrates that it is a nuclear process with great potentials. Properly utilized the process has potentials of becoming an unlimited and sustainable energy source, producing essentially no long-lived radioactive waste.”

Read more at Animpossibleinvention.com