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Commercial dispute resolution: The next major employer to be lost to automation?

Wednesday, 20th September 2018

"In a review of the increased uses of legal technology and artificial intelligence in commercial disputes, WilmerHale counsel Michael Howe finds that the role of the human practitioner looks set to remain.

The invasion of technology into the field of work is seen as one of the great challenges of our time. Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has opined that “robots will be able to do everything better than us”, and described artificial intelligence (AI) as “the biggest existential threat”.

The pollster YouGov, meanwhile, has suggested that four million jobs in the British private sector – some 15% of the private sector workforce – could be lost as a consequence of automation. Some journalists paint a vision of a dystopian future, in which armies of people are left in penury while the owners of job-destroying new technologies reap outsize rewards.

It is the vision of this future which led Bill Gates to propose that companies’ use of robots be taxed to ensure that important societal needs – such as education of young people and the provision of care for the elderly – could be met.

For many years, lawyers –particularly those in dispute resolution – have been immune to the advance of modern technology. As industries involving more manual labour have been hollowed out, dispute resolution has remained relatively unscathed; indeed, many lawyers still enjoy the luxury of billing by the hour, rather than by the task. But will commercial dispute resolution – and the large number of jobs it supports – remain immune from the advance of technology? Or is it the next industry to be threatened with automation?"

Read in full:  

Language: English
Contact: Michael Howe

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