Our legal committee gathered together to continue discussions about themes related to digitalization, the topic throughout the year.

We had the opportunity to visit DLA Piper Finland and hear about their experiences applying artificial intelligence in the legal field. They are at the cutting edge by developing a platform called Kira, and pushing the implementation of the technology in the firm worldwide. They also provide it to other companies as a service so that together, the legal field will discover what it’s capable of. This is a great example of using Finland as a testbed in developing new technologies, thanks to the skills available and our open mind to accelerating progress in different industries.

AI of this sort has implications for a number of industries, not least of which are banking, healthcare, or running any large corporation. A law firm that uses such technology, for example, can under bid those that don’t. It’s simply so much more efficient, fast and cheap to use the technology.

Let’s step back a moment. What is the legal processing tool Kira?

Kira is a first-generation artificial intelligence platform that can process huge amounts of information to seek for patterns in language – phrases, wording, clauses, and the sort. As such, Kira doesn’t ‘know’ anything, but you can teach it. You show it that ‘this is a concrete contract clause of such-and-such a sort.’ By the time you’ve shown it 20 of these, it can find and sort them from massive amounts of documents in minutes, with a 95% degree of accuracy. This is, the lawyers in the room pointed out, better than what humans do, especially considering that the work is down-right boring and often done with copious amounts of coffee at night.

It was also pointed out that Kira doesn’t—at the moment—do any legal analysis on its own and cannot make qualitative assessments over contract provisions, for example. Having said that, it’s predicted that in the near future, programs like Kira will be able to produce contracts on their own.

This doesn’t mean that lawyers will cease to exist, however. It’s just that they won’t be doing the leg work so much in the future. As pointed out in another occasion by University of Helsinki’s Katri Saarikivi, empathy is the one thing that AI cannot and will not be able to replicate. It’s the jobs that require empathy that are safe from computers and robots. The law is a living, human organism that is the sum of what humans make of it and empathy, of course, plays a large role.

For the Amcham community, this change in paradigms is important to keep in mind in everything we do. There is a lot we can do proactively—like learn how to use the technology itself—and perhaps equally importantly, we can emphasize and nurture our sense of community.

As Manfred Max Neef has written, we all need, in addition to subsistence and protection, things like affection, understanding, participation and creation. Any line of work or business comes down to affecting a human. The shape that the effect takes is something that will keep us occupied. Let’s embrace the change ahead of us and shape it to reflect ourselves!