I'm in love with my PC (Predictive Coding)

26 February 2014 by Daniel Kavan

Last week I saw Spike Jonze’s new film, "Her", set in the not-too-distant future about a man who, believe it or not, falls in love with his operating system (OS).

The premise is that there is a new OS platform available for mobile phones and computers – a more advanced version of Windows 8, if you will – which uses advanced artificial intelligence to communicate with, and learn from, its users.  The protagonist’s OS names herself Samantha and gets to know her user, eventually building a complex relationship with him.

Even today, having a conversation with your computer or mobile device isn’t particularly far-fetched. Google Now and Apple’s Siri are personal assistants that already take voice commands and answer questions. I often ask Siri on my iPhone to “tell my girlfriend that I’ll be there in 20 minutes” (upon which Siri promptly sends her a text message) or enquire as to “what meetings have I got on today?” or ask to “play music by Muse.”

At the moment, the technology isn’t advanced enough to allow a sophisticated, philosophical conversation with your phone, and although I’ve set Siri to speak to me in a female, Australian accent, I’m far from falling in love with her.  Computing power and learning algorithms have some way to go yet before speaking with a phone or computer feels “natural.” This BBC article discusses what advances software companies are making to move current technology more towards the likes of Samantha.

Artificial intelligence is certainly a focus for technologists and great leaps are being made in the field. The legal technology arena is no different. At Kroll Ontrack, for example, we are seeing more and more European clients trusting predictive coding technology to learn from lawyers as to which documents are relevant to which issues in their legal case. Our technology then suggests which unread documents are most likely to constitute evidence in the legal matter, and which ones should be ignored.

Our review platform may not verbally announce to the lawyer specifically which documents are the evidentiary smoking guns they need to rely on, but it certainly does allow small teams of lawyers to get through huge volumes of documentation, which in the past was either time consuming and expensive, or downright impossible.

When the OS in "Her" named herself Samantha, she did so by reading a book about baby names in a split-second. Before you dismiss this as science fiction, think about the fact that Legal Technology today reads thousands of documents every second to help lawyers focus on the most important documents. Science fact.