There’s No Hope

There really is no hope for humanity. At least not for humanity to have anything useful to do. Those of you who have been worrying about technology wiping out jobs should now be a lot more worried. A computer last week took on a champion debater and almost won.

Here’s an excerpt from a news report that should send chills down a body part: “… it mulled over 10 billion sentences from news articles and scientific journals.” And it did that in 15 minutes.

Or at least it had 15 minutes. It might have done it in one minute and spent the last 14 laughing to itself while the human frantically tried to come up with something coherent.

Now transfer this scene to a courtroom.

I’m half decent at Scrabble, not great, but pretty good and I like to take on my computer in a game to relax. I win only about a quarter of the time. In my last game, the computer put down “cleek,” “adipose,” “croft,” “kation,” “vainer,” and “trug.” I think it may have been cheating, but the computer doesn’t allow challenges (which is pretty suspicious).

The computer trial lawyer will have billions of arguments and facts at its instant disposal in court while you’re shuffling papers trying to remember where you put your list of deposition excerpts. You’ll lose at least three-quarters of the time and you won’t know how to challenge stuff the computer comes up with.

Law schools are going to have to develop entirely new curricula to prepare students for courtroom computer wars. Or maybe computer science departments are going to have to develop law programming.

Until those things happen, what is a human who has take on a computer to do? We all saw Jeopardy — that didn’t end well.

I have some suggestions.

Play to your strengths. You’re human. The judge is human. The jury is human. Point out that a mere machine couldn’t possibly understand human motivation. And do a lot of smiling. The computer won’t be able to counter that.

Pulling the plug on opposing counsel, tempting as it may be, is probably out of bounds, but there’s no reason you can’t pull a Captain Kirk and present the computer adversary with an unsolvable paradox. For example: “Counselor Robbie, can you explain why your corporate client has a right to free speech when it can’t speak? If money talks, what is it saying? Why isn’t money complaining about being folded and imprisoned in wallets?”

Or insist that computers print out all their work so it can be examined by the judge. The judge will then either explode or disqualify the computer.

Unfortunately, these tactics will only work until judges and juries are computerized. Then it’s time for computer classes.

More bad news: Romance is officially dead. The following appeared last week on Twitter.

You might as well skip the wedding ceremony and just sign the contract.

%d bloggers like this: