• Niklas Hall

Responding to AI

Updated: Feb 28, 2019

In a recent study, 20 top-of-the-line US corporate lawyers with decades of experience in corporate law and contract review were pitted against an AI legal agent: Lawgeek AI. A piece of software. The task was to spot issues in 5 Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), which are a contractual basis for business deals. But despite being beaten properly on both accuracy and time consumption, the real impact and significance of AI application seems lost on those who experience the encroachment on their area of expertise. However, this is a standard reply.

The study mentioned was carried out with leading legal academics and experts and saw LawGeek AI achieve an average accuracy rate of 94% - much higher than the lawyers who achieved an average rate of 85%. But the most significant difference was associated with time consumption: The lawyers spent between 51 and 156 MINUTES completing the task. The AI agent spent just 26 SECONDS! Let's say that again: 26 seconds!

So, what are the implications?


Once information is turned into ones and zeros, they enter Moore's Law. Exponential growth rates. Instead of the familiar 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… its now 1, 2, 4, 8, 16… Its why your smartphone and lap top are twice as fast and twice as good in 18 months. Computing power.

If you take 30 linear steps, you will be roughly 30 meters away. Your mind will find it easy to predict where you will be. When you are halfway etc. If you take 30 exponential steps, you will be 26 times round the globe. Not quite the same deal figuring out when you are halfway.

Exponential technologies are everywhere: AI (Artificial Intelligence); autonomous vehicles (cars – powered by AI); solar cells; IoT (Internet of Things – connected sensors); "Quantified Self" technologies (wearables like spots watches etc.); blockchain technologies; robotics. Et cetera. What they have in common is the 6 D's:

  • Digitized Anything that becomes digitized, enters the same exponential growth we see in computing. Digital information is easy to access, share and distribute

  • Deceptive When something starts being digitized, its initial period of growth is deceptive because exponential trends don't seem to grow very fast at first.

  • Disruptive The exiting market for a product or service is disrupted by the new market the exponential technology creates because digital technologies outperform in effectiveness and cost

  • De-monetized Money is increasingly removed from the equation as the technology becomes cheaper, often to the point of being free.

  • De-materialized Separate physical products are removed from the equation

  • Democratized Once something is digitized, more people can have access to it.

One thing that obviously just hit lawyers is the "de-monetizing" factor. What would usually cost you 1-2 hours of work now cost you half a minute worth. If the hourly rate is 500€ your lawyer would normally make 500-1.000 €. With AI its just 4 €. It's either going to take A LOT more NDA processing or the lawyer will have to think long and hard on how to upscale the company value proposition.

So, what are the options? Well, that's another story. Another blog post entire.


When software beat master of chess, that was quite something. Then it took on Chinese board game Go. A lot more complex, AI won. Still – its calculation power. You would think.

But then AI (IBM Watson) beat experts in Jeopardy. And then professional poker players playing "No-limit Hold 'Em". A game where certain elements, such as the cards on the table, are hidden - requiring a certain degree of intuition, not to mention luck. Bluffs, ever changing betting strategies etc. AI still won.

But despite all the evidence and the blatant clarityof the infinite capabilities of AI, its being dismissed. The implications are toned down.

The lawyers from the above example brushes off the implications. They focus on how AI can help them do – and get rid of – more mundane tasks and focus their attention on the "really complex tasks" that require their expertise. That require "human intuition" or "years of experience".

In that sense, they do what everybody does: They think AI is a just another sort – a "regular sort" of computer. Something allowing you to go home earlier. But it's not. It's LEARNING as it goes. Whatever you do, it can learn. It may take a little while, but it will. If what you do is based on repetition and rules, it will learn even faster.

If you are a lawyer, AI can access, read and provide overview on any type of case in any field of operation. Provide you the current precedence and provide a likely outcome. It can do the same on cancer treatment.

AI is used scanning x-rays of breast cancer. Scanning thousands of images and taking out those that require closer scrutiny (for now) by human doctors and experts. Applied this way, AI does what every other type of exponential technology will do for you: They transform your resource pool of attention, time and money from "scarcity" to "abundance".

From scarcity to abundance. So the real question is: Do you want more resources? Do you want the expert overview in seconds? Do you want the power of AI to filter thousands of data channels and provide you with a way forward? If yes, you need to get in the game. The AI game.

JUST ONE MORE THING Consider "time" as a resource. The idea of "having time". To "wait and see". If something has a linear growth rate, a steeper, linear growth rate can catch up. But if the growth rate is exponential, you will NEVER CATCH UP – even if you experience the same, exponential growth.

Which is why being first mover in a field of exponential technology is key. There are no second chances. And while exponential technologies increase your resource pool, it also MONOPOLIZES POWER – especially economic power. So, which it: Being left behind or staying up front?









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