Jul 2017
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I love gadgets and technology. I read about it. I buy it. I early adopt it. So I must be a geek. I’m relaxed about that as labels are of no interest to me anyway.

I work in a profession. The law. The way we lawyers work is changing. Mostly, we don’t like change. We are risk averse and when it comes to the diffusion of innovation we are generally last to the party, not the first. We are laggards.

But all that is changing. We are changing. Initially not willingly, I’ll admit. But the market is changing. So we have to move with the market. I crave the day when rather than reluctantly following a market, we lawyers lead it. Or in true blue ocean style, create a new market. Now there’s an idea to get geeky about!

One of the most written about “new” things in the law is so called “artificial intelligence”. Of course in working out what AI actually means has got a lot in common with Brexit. It means what the last person to refer to it says it means!

For now I’m going to be lazy and work on the notion that AI means work completed but not by a human. Work done by some software, an application, a bot – you know the drill.

So here is my dilemma. I’m a geek. I love tech. But, I also loathe how much tech has enslaved humans. Worse still I believe in people over tech. I believe in the talent that people have. I believe in the spirit we humans have. Most of all I believe in our pioneering drive. Humans are amazing at innovating. We can’t help it. It’s on our genes. We scale new heights. We go to new places – first on this planet and sooner than we think on others. We invent, create, iterate. We dream of different and new. We have free spirits.

Applications, bots and software don’t do that. I’m clearly not an expert, but I don’t think the machines ever will. Not truly. They might fake it a bit with clever questions and apparent empathy but it’ll be binary – literally coded into it.

We are in charge of technology, just like we are in charge of machines. We are not slaves to it. We created it and adopted it. As lawyers we must embrace technology intelligently – not artificially! We must use technology to help us to be amazing servants to our clients. We must focus on the human interaction. The connection and what the purpose of the connection between us and the client is all about.

Clients after all are buyers of something. Knowing what they buy is key. They don’t buy AI. They buy results. They always have and they always will. They don’t buy law or lawyers. They never have and they never will. They buy results.

So the discussion for me is not about the geek and the gadget. It’s not about the AI or the human. The discussion for me is about the connection, the results and the value that those things create. I buy those. What do you buy?