Lawyerbot is Here!

That's it. It's official. The Robocalypse has begun, and as you may have suspected, lawyers are involved. Meet your new lawyerbot overlord:

[...] a recent judicial ruling in the US has opened the doors to "predictive coding". It is a software technique designed to sift through millions of documents and spit out only those the lawyer might need, saving them time and - crucially - their clients' money.

"It allows a lawyer to look at a small fraction of a much larger collection of electronic documents," says Thomas Gricks, a partner at the Schnader law firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Gricks is defending aircraft-hangar operator Landow Aviation against private-jet owners seeking compensation after a roof collapse in 2010. The "legal discovery" part of the case involves examining about 2 million emails and attachments, which Gricks estimates would take 20,000 person hours and so cost $2 million. Predictive coding lets him review a sample set of just a few thousand documents, marking each as either relevant or non-relevant. This marked set is used to train the software to look for keywords and other linguistic features to find relevant documents, much as email spam filters learn to distinguish scams and adverts from genuine messages.

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