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Meet Ross, Your New AI Lawyer

Fariha Marjia
 Meet Ross, Your New AI Lawyer

International Business Machines Corporation, or more commonly known as IBM, has created the world's first artificially intelligent attorney ROSS. Powered by IBM’s groundbreaking cognitive computer, Watson, the multi-million dollar company has recently secured a position at Baker & Hostetler, a New York based law firm to handle its bankruptcy practice.

Ross is designed to understand language, provide answers to questions, formulate hypotheses and monitor developments in the legal system. Built on the same Watson computer, Ross has the same support system with the same cognitive computing and natural language processing capabilities that led to the win of Jeopardy in 2011. 

Despite all the fancy technology that has been put into ROSS, can the machine still make reasonable deductions under various circumstances like any human? The ROSS Intelligence website has this to quote, “You ask your questions in plain English, as you would a colleague, and ROSS then reads through the entire body of law and returns a cited answer and topical readings from legislation, case law and secondary sources to get you up-to-speed quickly. ROSS also monitors the law around the clock to notify you of new court decisions that can affect your case.”

In order to check the compatibility of ROSS, many practicing lawyers asked ROSS research questions in natural language as if conversing with a human colleague, and ROSS read through the law, gathered evidence, drew inferences and returned with a 'highly relevant', evidence-based answer. It’s hoped that the programme will continue to improve the more it is used by taking in more information per user. The machine is also equipped to keep track of developments in the current legal system, or any specific information related to a lawyer's specific case.

ROSS was conceived out of hardcore innovation and long hours of research conducted in 2014 at the University of Toronto. He was moved to Palo Alto, California a year later. And just within ten months of ROSS learning bankruptcy law, he was offered a job at Baker & Hostetler. 

“At Baker & Hostetler, we believe that emerging technologies like cognitive computing and other forms of machine learning can help enhance the services we deliver to our clients. We are proud to team up with innovators like ROSS and we will continue to explore these cutting-edge technologies as they develop.” said Bob Craig, Chief Information Officer.

Watch out law graduates, the already small pool of jobs is about to get even smaller as AI’s take over the control. IBM will continue to teach ROSS different areas of law with the hopes that every law firm in the world will have an AI on their legal team.

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