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In the most general terms, artificial intelligence (AI) is somewhere near the peak of the hype cycle (1). If you work in or adjacent to the legal industry (like most industries in fact), you’ll be aware that AI was one of the most talked about topics in 2017 and that looks set to continue in 2018. It has been impossible to miss – from conferences, chatbot challenges, debates and seminars to a House of Lords’ select committee. You need only look at a map of legal start-ups (#lawtech) to understand the scale of both the substance and the hyperbole of AI. Google Trends shows that AI-related searches in the UK have been steadily increasing over the last five years (2). Similarly, the search term “what is AI?” has trended upwards over the same period.
At LexisNexis, and in the wider RELX Group, we’ve been carefully considering the real impact AI will have on a number of professions – what will it mean for you, your business and your clients. It is not always easy, especially with emerging technology, to extract the realities from sensationalist headlines (3). In a technology as broad as AI, and in professions as complex and varying as legal and tax, it is a difficult task to see the proverbial wood from the trees.
People take AI to mean different things. Depending on who you speak with, AI can range from a clever Excel application, all the way to a general super-intelligence. When we refer to AI, we are broadly referring to any system capable of performing tasks utilising aspects of human intelligence such as logic, reasoning, learning and deduction. This is largely the same definition as adopted by the UK Government (4).
As a global business we have sought to use new
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