Watson Reads Dylan, Disrupts Legal Services

Watson, IBM’s cognitive computing product, has been busy talking lyrics with Bob Dylan in a new ad and preparing to disrupt the legal services industry. While Watson concludes that Dylan’s songs are about lost love and the passage of time, it seems that time is on Watson’s side in the estimation of many leading lawyers. Ars Technica reports that a recent survey of law firm partners finds that Watson-like machines are expected to disrupt the way legal services are provided in the next 10 years.

The study, which included responses from high-ranking lawyers at 320 firms with at least 50 lawyers on staff, found that 35 percent of the top brass at responding law firms envision replacing first-year associates with some type of AI in the coming decade. Less than 25 percent of respondents gave the same answer in a similar survey in 2011. About 20 percent of those anonymous respondents also said second- and third-year attorneys could also be replaced by technology over the same period. Half of law firm leaders said that paralegals could be killed off by computers.

The responses to the survey are summarized in this chart:


As Dylan might put it, “There is nothing so stable as change.”


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