Siri, can you tell me and joke?
On the occasion of winning the Domestic Law Firm of the Year 2019 category as part of the Law Firm of the Year competition, our managing partner Alexander Kadela wrote an article for etrend.sk. You can read the whole text also here or directly at etrend.sk.
Originally, I wanted to start writing about the topic where the legal services market was imminently heading. However, after having written a few lines I realized that it bored me. It can be summed up in one sentence. Everyone tries to be already today where the market will be only tomorrow.
As I was bored, I took my iPhone in my hand and just to get a bit amused I started speaking to Siri (which is virtual assistant): “Siri, can you tell me a joke?” Have you ever tried it? Has Siri ever amused you with its sense of humour? Those jokes are often based on ambiguity. I do not always understand them, but sometimes they are quite good. Siri promptly replied: “Two silk worms challenged each other to a race. They ended in a tie. ”
I laughed. Had some friend told me this joke, it would have been average. The fun rests in the fact that Siri, part of the iOS operating system, said this joke. I am throwing my original concept into the trash bin. Tomorrow is not cool. More interesting is the vision of market movement in terms of a longer perspective. I was wondering when, on the contrary, would Siri laugh at my jokes. As an attorney at law, I am very interested in the answer.
For how long will the lawyers made of flesh and bones have any added value? Nevertheless, if Siri can laugh, it means that it would understand sarcasm, ambiguity, and schadenfreude. Did you know that jokes come mostly from schadenfreude? Just only to say, “Come on, it was just a joke.” It is not for nothing when they say that schadenfreude is inherent in people, and it is laughing what makes people different from animals.
Shall we be afraid then? No, by no means. Above all, we are not yet able to build a general artificial intelligence which would understand the complex links that shape the rules of behaviour. For the time being, artificial intelligence remains focused only on addressing specific issues. Although, unlike a computer programme, it works the same way as a brain based on neural network, it still learns very little of what we have to understand.
The only difference is that whatever it learns to do it does it quickly and flawlessly. Nevertheless, this is not a threat, but a challenge that we must prepare for and use it. I believe that, as in many other areas, artificial intelligence will be used also in law. There will be intelligent assistants assisting us to perform certain tasks better. However, as long as someone processes only routine assignments without any high added value, he/she should be on his/her guard. Siri is waiting for its opportunity.
Nonetheless, we deliver to our clients legal services where the added value of the personal contribution is fairly vital. We are happy to hire assistants. We suppose that the excellent lawyer is not the one with a good technical knowledge of the law, but the one who is able to identify the deeper meaning in the text of a legal norm. The inner logic.
For a lawyer, a thorough understanding of the functioning of the society and of the human nature is necessary. Excellent lawyers often question themselves. Because it is human and because they know that identifying the true meaning of norms is sometimes difficult. We do not need to be afraid of Siri and its successors. Even where some tasks are taken over by artificial intelligence, in case of many topics, you just must be human in order to understand them.
You need to be able not only to think logically but also to feel logically. Siri does not understand this. I had the privilege to talk basically to an IT genius and he assured me that it would not be able to understand this in the 21st century. And I keep on having fun. “Siri, can you tell me a joke about lawyers?” “I am not a lawyers fan.” I do not understand, but maybe it is better.
Alexander Kadela, managing partner RELEVANS