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Will Machines Take Over the World?

Will Machines Take Over the World?

This is what people sometimes say when you start talking about machine language and artificial intelligence. Though it’s true that a computer can perform long, complex mathematical computations, it could never understand a small boy’s love for a cute puppy. All those emotions that humans have, all those irrational beliefs – it might be hard to find a robot who would get it.

As we’ve all seen in the movies, robots have no understanding of human emotions like love. There are many other esoteric concepts that humans display regularly. These feelings are much more a part of our existence than we think. We take them for granted. But would a machine understand why you’ve kept your mother’s old quilts for 40 years?

Perhaps someday our robots will be sophisticated enough to comprehend emotions like hate, love, revenge, forgiveness, and empathy. Today, however, we’re a long way from that happening. This knowledge hasn’t prevented technology experts from moving forward with innovative ideas. It looks like the future will be full of incredible things we can only imagine.

Artificial intelligence and the attorney

The legal field often deals with strong emotions like love, hate and revenge. The motive for murder is frequently nothing more than simple jealousy. The motive for robbery or embezzlement is most commonly greed. Since the law so often deals with complex human emotions, will it be able to fully utilize machine learning and artificial intelligence?

Though it has represented a significant hurdle for our best and brightest experts, legal professionals are finding ways that it can be done. Almost any attorney would be interested in learning how a particular judge might rule in his case. Information like this is priceless. But so many lawyers today are unfamiliar with the technology and the terminology. For those who are intrigued by the possibilities available now in machine learning and artificial intelligence, it’s important to know the basic jargon.

The technology behind these applications can be overwhelming for anyone without a background in robotics. However, we can learn the basics about each type of technology and take advantage of the awesome opportunities just waiting for those who are willing to take a step into the future.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

This is a broad term describing a wide range of technologies that can perform complex tasks that were once only performed by humans. This includes self-driving cars, speech recognition, robotics, algorithmic stock trading, medical imagery devices and a few others. The list grows almost daily.

Artificial intelligence is having a deep impact on the legal field, the business community, the medical field and the financial industry. As new advancements are made, it will become almost essential to understand AI well enough to know where you can best implement it in your law firm.

In the the legal profession, artificial intelligence is already making many of those time-consuming, redundant jobs much easier. AI can be used to analyze legal contracts, review documents, and manage billing tasks. One of the more exciting applications is in the area of data mining. AI is now being used to sort through millions of litigation documents to find the strategic insights that can help you win your case.

Though machines may never be able to replace a well-trained litigator, they can quickly comb through a mountain of data and extract the exact information you will need to get the right verdict. AI applications offer a wide range of possibilities, and yet they can be targeted to accomplish very specific skills. The trick is in learning which tasks are best done by a human being, and which ones should be completed by artificial intelligence.

Many of today’s law firms are using AI-based legal tools for research. They’re also using them to identify drafting errors, predict outcomes, identify litigation trends and much more. As law firms begin to understand the potential behind machine learning, expect them to venture out more into this realm.

Cognitive Computing and Augmented Intelligence

Cognitive computing is often used interchangeably with AI. However, there is a subtle difference between the two. In the field of cognitive computing, developers strive to simulate the human thought process. This technology utilizes data mining, natural language processing and pattern recognition technology. The goal is to solve problems without human intervention. Using machine learning algorithms, this technology is continuously acquiring new knowledge. The hope is that someday it will be able to anticipate problems before they happen and provide working solutions.

Augmented Intelligence uses numerous AI applications as well. These include natural language programming, robotics, neural networks and virtual reality. While AI is more about replacing thousands of human actions using a computer program, Augmented Intelligence is more about enhancing the human experience. Humans would use virtual reality and robots to help them with complex, large and small tasks.

In the world of artificial intelligence, you might hear terms like “robot lawyers.” In the world of augmented intelligence, advanced technology would enhance a human attorney’s skills. At the end of the day, both technologies are necessary because there will be times when a robot lawyer might actually be a better idea.

For instance, think about the enormous time spent by judges who are dealing with small crimes like petty theft, speeding tickets, drunk and disorderly conduct, etc. Most of these crimes don’t require a judge and jury. They could easily be decided by a computer algorithm that measures the facts of the case against the written law pertaining to the case. This type of robot lawyer could process cases with better accuracy than a human judge and at a much faster rate. This would equal a substantial cost savings to the city and law enforcement.

Analytics

Most people understand the term “analytics” now due to widespread usage of analytics programs that tell you how your website is doing. Today’s advanced analytics programs do more than just analyze data. Using sophisticated tools, they parse through massive amounts of data and eliminate anything considered irrelevant or redundant. Next, the data is structured so that it can be readily used. Analytics is a field that constantly changes because new data is being entered and sorted each day. This process is building a colossal database of all knowledge.

An analytics program can be configured to work in specific fields like the law, medicine, sales, stock trading or any number of areas. You might profit from knowing how well appliance sales do on certain days of the week. This same technology could also tell you how likely a criminal is to commit additional crimes.

What does the future hold?

As we move forward, it behooves us all to learn about machine learning, augmented intelligence, analytics, and cognitive computing. As with every new advancement in futuristic technology, the more we know, the more readily we’ll be able to adopt the technology and accept it into our lives. There are already much easier and cheaper ways to accomplish most of our everyday redundant tasks.

You can tell your Roomba to “Start Cleaning.” You can ask Alexa where a restaurant is located and how late they’re open. You can help your teenager with a complex math equation. But, you can’t tell Alexa to pick up the kids from school.

Our machines may someday perform all our normal household and many of our work-related tasks. At the moment though, there are certain things that only humans can do. However, humans augmented by artificial intelligence will be able to complete those tasks much faster and with better accuracy.

The Future of Big Data and the Legal Industry

The Future of Big Data and the Legal Industry

There’s no doubt that Big Data, Data Mining, and Machine Learning have changed every industry on the planet. Recent political campaigns were won by experts who knew how to use all data available regarding key factors. Many were surprised to learn how certain types of information could guide a political campaign down the pathway to a big win.

Data analytics now used in many industries

Data analytics has been used in the field of sports for many years. This is perhaps one of the first industries to fully embrace this concept. All professional sports organizations use volumes of data to understand past performances of rival teams. They analyze every bit of the information available to discover a competing team’s weaknesses. Then they use that information to build an arsenal of both offensive and defensive strategies.

It’s natural that the legal profession would want to gain the upper hand in this same manner. And, that is exactly what’s taken place in the last few years. Now we have teams who are experts in both technology and the law. Using the most sophisticated tools available, they decipher every morsel of legal information, including trial outcomes, court decisions, witness testimony, precedents and much more. This gives their side the competitive advantage.

However, the issues that the legal system faces differ a great deal from those of other industries. A sports team analyzes things like various plays and the results of those actions. In the legal field, every trial generates huge amounts of data. From the trial transcripts to the expert witnesses, the sheer volume of data sets the legal field apart from most other industries.

How legal data differs

Last year, in the US alone, there were over 350,000 cases brought to court. And legal data is highly complex. It contains legal nuances that are hard to explain to most people, much less a computer program. Trial outcomes typically occur as a result of hard evidence, but sometimes they are a result of emotional juries. Since juries are made up of human beings, it’s very hard to predict with accuracy what they will do in any given situation. That’s the goal of trial science.

In the past, America has held very public trials for popular athletes accused of crimes like assault or even murder. All the evidence might point to the suspect being guilty. And yet, the jury had a previous emotional connection with the athlete because they enjoyed watching him play sports. Even with overwhelming evidence of guilt, the jury ruled that he was innocent.

How do you explain that type of irrational thinking to a computer? How will artificial intelligence deal with anomalies like this? These are just a few of the questions facing today’s data-driven attorneys. Though big data offers a world of opportunities, it also represents a substantial challenge even to the best legal researchers.

How to produce the richest data

Today’s legal technology experts are continuously adding new information to their databases. Every trial and verdict is a new piece of information that the AI will use to build its intelligence platform. In fact, millions of pieces of data are added daily to the repository. These massive blocks of data require high-speed processors. Much of this is accomplished using data-parsing technology.

This process cleans raw data, refines and enhances it, and structures the data so it offers maximum insight to users. For instance, one program allows searchers to look at the decisions specific judges made in the past. This helps them build a profile of that judge’s legal philosophies. With great accuracy, these programs can predict how a judge will rule in a certain type of court case. Imagine being able to know with some degree of certainty, how a judge might rule on a specific case before the trial even begins.

Endless possibilities

The possibilities this technology provides are endless and offer a wealth of valuable information to attorneys. As the future unfolds for the legal field, experts believe that advanced technology will be used in every part of the law.

Of course, today it’s being used primarily by legal teams that want to win cases. There are often substantial financial reasons for wanting to win a big case. Today’s attorneys understand that clients are looking for the best team of lawyers. They want to work with the brightest people–winners. But, there’s more than just money on the line; a law firm is building its reputation as well. They want to build their brand to the place where their name is a byword in the legal world.

Refining the legal world

These are natural reasons for wanting to win at anything. However, many experts believe the future of legal technology holds much more than this. They believe the legal field can evolve into a much more fair, accurate and profitable industry. As a society, we can begin to get things right when it comes to verdicts in big cases. We can move past the place where known murderers are freed over a technicality. This is not a pipe dream for many in the legal field, it’s a destiny that must be achieved for our legal system to continue moving forward.

Perfecting a complex legal system

From making new laws to enforcing old ones, data mining and machine learning have the potential to show us where our society’s legal system has failed in the past. We can clearly see what has worked and what hasn’t. We can use this knowledge to move forward in a better direction. Unfair laws could be changed, and unfair verdicts could be a thing of the past.

That’s the hope of every reputable attorney. Today, we may use data mining and AI to gain a better advantage in a trial. Tomorrow, we may use them to mold our legal system into a fine-tuned instrument that delivers correct verdicts every time, and at a third of the cost.

See how mProactive can help your law firm by contacting us at (724) 261-3034 or at sales@mproactive.com! Call or email today!

The Facebook Tango

The Facebook Tango

Do you like to dance?

Dancing is both a science and an art. The waltz is a beautiful and romantic flowing dance, the foxtrot involves intricate alternating fast and slow steps, and the tango is rigid with its pace starting slow and increasing in intensity. Each of these is recognized by their steps and a set pace, and partners must step in sync or the dance results in absolute chaos.

A brand’s presence on Facebook is much like the tango: Your content must follow intricately timed steps that the famous Facebook algorithm uses to decide the fate of your post. This algorithm has the final say in the reach of your content, thus impacting engagement.

The Famous Facebook Algorithm

The Facebook algorithm is nothing new to brands that use Facebook to drive traffic. This algorithm is complex (and a closely-guarded secret formula), and prioritizes posts based on the meaningful interaction and discussion they inspire (or not).

The Social Network was born in 2003 and evolved into TheFacebook.com. TheFacebook was initially only available to students at Harvard but was wildly successful, and the rest is history. Considering that Mark Zuckerberg was a computer science student at Harvard when planning TheFacebook, it makes sense that even 15 years later its algorithmic secrets are enigmatic. More than a student directory, TheFacebook project was an edgy and innovative way to take socialization to new levels, paving the way for person-to-person interactions beyond the walls of a classroom or dormitory hall.

Fast-forward to 2018, and Facebook is still testing boundaries and pushing limits. From its humble beginnings as a student-to-student connection channel to today’s content-filled environment where brands compete with bodies for attention in a user’s Feed, Facebook is still focused on social interactions, but is embracing innovation and changing things up on us – again!

Evolution of the Feed

Facebook users were recently sent a survey, with no incentive to complete other than Facebook’s request to understand how users “feel” about the product. Why is this important? Facebook is a business like any other, right? Wrong. Facebook is a for-profit entity with the idea to facilitate interactions between people and to bring them together. The fundamental foundation of Facebook is people.

Facebook Feeds are increasingly becoming more populated with posts from brands and businesses; even the media deliver news via Facebook. Less personal interactions are taking place, and the overall “feeling” from people about Facebook is becoming largely negative. This is not the perception Facebook wants users to have for long-term success.

The last presidential election is a great example of overwhelming Feeds with more news and branded content than actual social posts from friends and family. Facebook has also been blamed for the demise of friendships and destruction of relationships and marriages, with social profiles being checked for “dirt” by attorneys to use in legal proceedings. Social media has been accused of facilitating cyber-bullying and linked to lowering self-esteem. Efforts to combat negativity have been largely unsuccessful given the very public nature of the channel.

Where did the “bad” begin? Even the algorithm can’t pinpoint the precise moment that Facebook started to take a turn. Around 2013, Facebook eliminated the ability for users to have their privacy settings remain invisible to the public and not appear in searches. The notion was that having a private profile on a social network was counterintuitive – and users couldn’t argue since Facebook is a public website. The change came as an unwelcome shock for many users “flying under the radar,” but as in any situation, users adapted to this latest change from the platform known for shaking things up once or twice a year.

What we know for sure

One thing we know is that change is afoot at Facebook: Zuckerberg & Co. want to get back to basics. That’s not to say much will change for users posting content, but brands are going to feel the difference where it hurts. Facebook is responsible for a vast amount of referral traffic from brands’ organic posts on their individual Facebook Pages.

The algorithm will focus on the quality of content, and prioritize people over public posts, pushing for more person-to-person interaction with a focus on community over profit in post content. Facebook is listening to feedback where users are tired of click-baiting, a practice where teaser headlines get users to click to consume content and are sometimes tricked by misleading headlines.

What does this mean for brands?

The bottom line for brands is to evolve or die. Facebook is envisioning a few key outcomes:

  1. Users – people – will spend less time on Facebook
  2. A decrease in user engagement overall
  3. An increase in sharing of personal posts
  4. More lively discussion among users

None of these are making brands do cartwheels with excitement. Engagement is what drives users – again, people – to be on-platform longer. If people spend less time on Facebook, this means less attention is given to brand content, and fewer clicks. This translates into a major impact on referral traffic. It’s also going to force brands to re-think their definition of engagement. How can brands still reach users and connect with them? Brands are going to be forced to adapt and change their social media strategies.

The fascinating part of all of this is that Facebook wants an increase in the sharing of personal posts and more discussion among users. These posts are what drive their ad targeting system—Targeted paid advertisements are the way Facebook wants brands to reach their audience.

The bad news for brands is that ad costs have significantly increased in the last few years, a trend that is likely to continue for a few reasons. Facebook is a wildly popular platform and well aware of its position. Even with user churn, Facebook’s user base continues to grow – there are more new users than those who become inactive or choose to leave – thus establishing solid logic for advertising prices, as well as continually increasing the potential reach for a paid targeted ad.

When a brand uses its Facebook Page to post content, the goal is to be in the Feed of every user. This is, in fact, something Facebook has been scaling back since before 2012. Dancing to the tune of the algorithm has long been a challenge brands must overcome to survive and maintain a Facebook presence. Adversely, Facebook has an eventual goal of Page posts reaching no user Feeds at all.  This is rumored to be labeled “Facebook Zero” – where only paid ads and “sponsored content” (paid posts) will target user Feeds.

  • Did you know that brands can use Facebook Messenger for promotions? They can message their customers directly within the Messenger platform and sidestep the Feed rules. Like email marketing, when deployed strategically, engaging with Facebook users via Messenger can yield impressive results. Brands can also use systems to automate updates sent to subscribers and responses to inquiries – at least for now.

The Exception to the Rules

Over half of Facebook users are members of at least one Facebook Group. The numbers speak for themselves: The number of Facebook users hovers around 2 billion, and Facebook Groups have a user base of more than 1 billion active users every month. There are more than 100 million users in Groups considered “meaningful,” in that the discussions are deemed informative, insightful, and intellectual – and users find them very helpful.

  • Did you know that the total count of users who are members of Facebook Groups outnumber Instagram and Snapchat total subscribers combined?

Zuckerberg & Co. believe Groups are underestimated and underappreciated. There is value hidden within Facebook Groups. In 2017 Facebook hosted a Communities Summit that was free for U.S.-based Group members, with Facebook covering the hotel and food tab for attendees.

What is the benefit for brands? To be heard through the noise on Facebook, a brand is going to need to get (even more) creative. A brand can create a Group through their Page, and follow a few tips and best practices to successfully incorporate Groups into their overall strategy:

  • Don’t confuse brand “sales” with Facebook’s “Buy and Sell” when choosing a Group Goal; “Buy and Sell” is widely used for garage sale-type Groups.
  • Choosing a “Closed” Group setting as a privacy option helps create the feeling of exclusivity for users.
  • Be careful not to be too detached in choosing your cover photo; a cold photo expressly aimed at generating a profit isn’t going to send the right message.
  • Invite members through Messenger with a personalized message. This is still an element you can automate, but remember to convey the value a member can find within the Group

Active Group discussions are key drivers of “free” post visibility. Above, we learned Facebook wants to focus on lively discussions among users. Carefully crafted posts in Groups for targeted, engaged members will yield incredible reach, all while playing Facebook’s game!

Time to Tango

For users, in a perfect world, they would see funny memes and videos of cats and updates from friends and family. Facebook maintains that memes and videos don’t offer the satisfaction and fulfillment that user interaction holds —And since they control the algorithm, they’re leading this tango. Brands that choose to dance need to stay in step, or they’ll be forced to sit the next one out.

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