IBM Watson training for its appearance on Jeopardy (link is to YouTube)

Fresh from defeating its human opponents on Jeopardy, IBM Watson has now begun to demonstrate its artificial-intelligence capacities in the real world. Watson and its counterparts are already being used in such fields as medicine, education, security and defense intelligence, and now work is underway to develop “brand new baby versions of Watson” that will be suitable for use in legal settings.

At a recent Legal Futures Innovation Conference in London, Kyla Moran, a senior consultant from IBM’s cognitive computing team, said that law-specific AI platforms are only a few years off, and that apps relevant to legal practice can be developed “‘immediately’ by any interested legal services provider, via IBM’s Bluemix platform.”

In reporting on the session, Dan Bindman reports that IBM projects a “massive potential” for use of its new cognitive computing technology in legal contexts, starting in the very near future. Moran described to session participants several possible legal applications that ranged from the mundane (keeping lawyers updated on changes to legislation, advising them on best options for individual clients, and dealing with paperwork) to the “slightly creepy” (“[deciding] which arguments in court might play well or badly with a particular judge at a given time of day”).

According to Ms. Moran, Birdman says, “Businesses purchasing Watson technology for a specific purpose could be up and running within six months [… although] the first generic ‘Watson for legal’ type application could take a year or more to develop.”

IBM describes Watson as “a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.” Bindman’s article about IBM Watson’s potential legal applications (and its legal implications), is interesting and thorough. Since you probably don’t yet have a robot that can read the article for you and let you know how AI may impact your particular practice, I encourage you to check it out yourself.

Let me know what you think about the future of artificial intelligence at the law (or any other matter), either in the comments section below, or directly via email.