There will be Automation, but not Artificial Intelligence

The first Today’s Wills and Probate Roundtable of the year took place yesterday, getting 2018 off to a strong start.

Hosted at Howden’s head office in London, it follows the success of our 2017 Roundtables, where professionals from across the sector met to discuss the challenges they face both in practice and as service providers.

Yesterday’s event did not disappoint.

With a room packed with professionals from the sector, it wasn’t long before the conversation was flowing, with a number of topical issues quickly beginning to emerge.

Richard Brown (pictured) Technical Director of Redbrick Solutions, struck up a controversial debate on the future – or lack of – artificial intelligence in will writing. He stated that whilst technology will be introduced, it may not quite reach the extent of AI in the true sense.

“There will be automation but not AI. There will be decision engines but not true AI in terms of making non-standard decisions within systems. In terms of software, the legal industry is in some ways a long way off when comparing it with the technical sector. I believe we underestimate short term goals and overestimate long term. For example, people say that AI is going to happen soon, but I think it will take longer. People confuse AI with software we have currently.”

Contesting this particular point was Clive Ponder, Director of Countrywide Tax & Trust Corporation Ltd. He stated that the systems and software Countrywide uses does provide consultative information and decision making, and that it is AI.

“Once your software starts to tell you that the decision you have inputted is wrong, it is on the line of AI.”

In response, Richard highlighted that AI in the true sense requires no human input to make a decision.

“Current software requires human intervention and is just automating the output. I don’t believe the technology is there, but there are grey areas and it is down to interpretation.”

Suggesting where AI could fit in was Andrew Townsend, Director of Non Contentious Services at Kiteleys Solicitors stated: “It could be a piece of software which scans hundreds of thousands of documents and then identifies which bits you need. This could both replace human intervention and save time.”

Chris Vinton, Sales Manager at Thistle Insurance Services took this one step further, highlighting that AI should operate beyond set rules.

“Systems are all rules based, pure AI is being able to sense and feel and intuitively design things beyond the rules that we can put in.”

Commenting on the success of yesterday’s event was Karen Babington, Director of Solve Legal Marketing. She said: “Today’s Wills and Probate would like to thank our attendees for their contributions and collaboration, which is ultimately the essence of what makes our Roundtables so engaging and insightful.”

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