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BLTF: The Post-Hype AI Hype, Plus iManage RAVN Is Legal Spotify

Yesterday, one of the largest legal tech events in Europe took place: the British Legal Technology Forum (BLTF). What went down and what can we learn from the mood music inside the event about the current state of the legal tech sector? Here are a few thoughts.

The BLTF is a classic legal tech event, with a huge exhibition space, a maze of vendor stands and multiple stages with a mass of keynotes and panels. It was chaired by legal tech godfather, Richard Susskind, and had sponsors such as digital security company, Masergy, which AL hadn’t heard of before, but apparently helps several major law firms protect themselves, and stalwarts Thomson Reuters. So far so good.

But, what has AL learnt? And interestingly that was a question people kept asking AL’s chief reporter as he wandered the stages and rooms. And that is a very good question. What did I learn?

The Post-Hype AI Hype

One of the funniest things was what AL is calling the Post-Hype AI Hype, which refers to the strange position we have put ourselves in by declaring that the AI hype wave is over and that now we are going to only focus on practical stuff and not even use the term AI if at all possible.

Sounds fair enough….except it’s impossible. Several speakers started off their presentations by introducing the Post-Hype scenario, and in doing so inadvertently created a new kind of hype, i.e. the post-hype hype about AI.

Also, the point about not using the term AI was quite hilarious. A speaker would do the usual post-hype preamble, say that they no longer used the term AI, and then gave a 20 minute speech where the term AI was used every 45 seconds.

Why? Because there is no way around it. Sometimes they’d deviate into saying ‘machine learning’ or ‘natural language processing’ – but the truth is, it’s just so much easier to say AI. And AL would guess that just about everyone in the room knew what this meant in the legal sector context. So why avoid it if we all understand it? Hmmm….we live in strange times.

So, irony was the first learning of the day. The second learning is what James Joyce called ‘ineluctable modality‘, though in this case it’s the ineluctable modality of the term AI. And for that reason Artificial Lawyer has decided not to enjoin the post-hype hype party, and instead to press on to the next stage of this technology’s evolution and its journey.

Artificial Lawyer will proclaim the AI terminology with pride and not try to pretend we can get around it. Who cares if a bunch of marketing people have over-used the term? We know what it means.

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