Legal is one of the industries faced with a huge potential impact through the advent of AI. met with Counselytics Founder Jason Gabbard in New York City, one of the most exciting start-ups in this space.  Counselytics client Gavin Solotar, Partner  of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz stated that ‘Counselytics is the first truly significant innovation I’ve seen in the legal field since word processing’. Jason shares with us some of his views on the future of the legal profession, his work with ‘cognitive augmentation’ and their ongoing projects.

-Tell us about your journey so far with Counselytics – what was the inspiration for the business, and what are you aiming to achieve?

We call ourselves a cognitive augmentation company rather than an artificial intelligence company.  The notion with cognitive augmentation is that while we may not have true thinking machines (ie, true AI), we do have really powerful and sophisticated technologies that people can utilize to perform their jobs more intelligently and more efficiently.  In computer science, that’s typically known as man-machine symbiosis.  Computers cannot run an investigation or write bespoke contracts yet, but they are very good at tactics and at automating the routine.

My friend and investor Joe Lonsdale likes to talk about tactics and strategies in chess, and how humans and computers perform differently with each.  For years now the best chess players have been computers, but they’re still weaker at strategy (as opposed to tactics).  However, if you give a good human chess player a very simple computer – say an iPhone 2 – the human can beat the computer 10 of 10 times.  That’s man-machine symbiosis, and that’s what counselytics aims to achieve for our enterprise clients.  When lawyers and dealmakers use Counselytics to analyze and organize data inside of contracts, they can become multiples better at performing daily tasks.

-What’s next for Counselytics?

Make our existing customers happy.  Expand.  Repeat.

-Which Industries do you believe will be the pioneers in broadly adopting AI technologies? Is legal one of them?

Medicine and Law are two of that I see significant uptake of AI technologies.

-How do you see the Enterprise AI market evolving over the next 5 years?

The technology will only improve.  First generation AI (and cognitive augmentation) will become more reliable and more pervasive in the workplace.  I like to point to PDF technology as an analogy.  When I started practicing law, we had a process referred to as “going to PDF” in the context of financial printers (like Merril and Bowne) and publicly filed corporate documents (offering circulars for instance).  We’d go to the printer and have them convert a MS Word document to PDF.  The work product came one page at a time and a typical document would take a few hours to convert.  We did not trust the technology, and – to be sure – it made mistakes, formatting problems and dropped words.  You know the rest of that story.  PDF has been perfected and we can now suck text out of images in a nearly flawless manner.  As we gain traction among the enterprises, we’ll find deeper and better applications and the workplace will become more dependent on next generation AI.

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