The explosion of AI capabilities and other emerging technologies is clearly transforming the practice of law. Can these technologies also be leveraged to prepare students for an evolving job market? Working closely with our partners at Thomson Reuters, we at Above the Law have been exploring the impact of AI and other technologies on law schools. We now invite you to explore Cognifying Legal Education, the first in a four-part, multimedia exploration of how artificial intelligence and similar innovations are reshaping the legal profession: Law2020.
Human biases can become part of the technology people create, according to Nicos Savva, Associate Professor of Management Science and Operations at London Business School. A recent House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence (AI) "AI in the UK: Ready, Willing and Able?" urged people using and developing AI to put ethics centre stage. The committee suggested a cross-sector AI Code, with five principles that could be applied globally including that artificial intelligence should "be developed for the common good and benefit of humanity" and should "operate on principles of intelligibility and fairness". The committee's chairman, Lord Clement-Jones, said in a statement: "The UK has a unique opportunity to shape AI positively for the public's benefit and to lead the international community in AI's ethical development, rather than passively accept its consequences." He added that "AI is not without its risks".
As a medical student, I used to enjoy the Fox show House M.D.--or at least, the first 20 minutes of the hourlong episodes. Each week, the cynical genius Dr. Gregory House would take on one new case, each seemingly more bizarre than the last. Early in the episode, House and his team would sit around a table kicking around the details of whatever mysterious ailment was afflicting their latest patient. They'd generated the so-called differential diagnosis, a list of possible conditions that should have included the real culprit. Their differential diagnosis was especially useful for a medical student because it was usually a reasonably accurate and inclusive list of the conditions that the patient ought to have had, were it not a fictional TV show.
Which statement do you believe? Robots will wipe out our jobs. AI and robotics will make everything free. These extreme viewpoints are both vying for our attention. Singularity University, which aims to solve our global grand challenges through exponential technologies, widely reports that AI is the world's cure.
ASK 100 students what they want from an MBA programme and you're likely to get 100 different answers. However, ask them what they want more of, and trends are easier to discern. At the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, a survey of the current class earlier this year asked what students wanted to learn more about. "It has rapidly consumed a lot of mental real estate with our MBA students," says Brian Uzzi, who teaches a course on AI to MBAs at Kellogg. AI has become a key tool for businesses in all industries.
The past two decades have seen the workplace transformed by digital advances. Gone are many traditional structures and practices, replaced with new ways of doing business, designed to support collaboration and digitally-enabled remote and flexible working. As the technology behind AI and robotics becomes more sophisticated, the number of jobs that remain untouched by automation will decrease. "To keep pace, businesses must rethink how they organise work, reinvent jobs, redeploy staff and implement robust plans for the future," says Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice at London Business School (LBS). There are also emerging social trends and shifting demographics to consider.
I originally wrote and published a version of this article in September 2016. Since then, quite a bit has happened, further cementing my view that these changes are coming and that the implications will be even more substantial. I decided it was time to update this article with some additional ideas and a few changes.