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Julian Sayarer speaks to experts and early adopters of new technologies in the legal world to find out what role regulation of such technologies will play in the future. Regulation of new technology is always a question of chickens and of eggs and the legal profession is no exception to the rule. Regulatory bodies are adapted to the particularities of the world as we know it, but technology creates shifts that in turn create the need for new regulation.
How and where to strike balance in managing these shifts is the complex part of the question. Regulations are put in place in response to a need for protection of practitioners and their clients; while technological innovation might undo those safeguards, it might equally alleviate workloads and create efficiencies to the good of all.
Clear thought on the matter first of all requires an understanding of what is meant by ‘technology’; the word could equally apply to data storage—and other forms of technology that now seem comparatively traditional and familiar—as to automating time-intensive processes such as due-diligence. This latter application of technology, which takes us into areas of artificial intelligence (AI), is consistently accompanied by concern that we could soon enter a world of unknowns, where deskilled humans and emboldened robotics create new problems that we are no longer able to manage or to control.
It is understood across business that too much regulation can be as problematic as too little, but what if that regulation is key to controlling a sea-change that could wipe away a profession as it has been known?
However futuristic artificial intelligence and automation by technology can seem, these issues have not sprung from nowhere. Since the turn of the millennium, Chris Reed from the School of Law at London’s Queen Mary University has been writing about the impact of the internet on authentication processes and information ownership. His starting appraisal is that current regulatory and legal standards originate from a level
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