A conversation with Roger Bickerstaff

AI has been a recurring theme of science fiction for many decades. Humans or robot? Enemies or Friends?Bickerstaff_Roger_DT_600x600
On November 18th, we had the pleasure to host Roger Bickerstaff at one of our Global Conversations. He has been listed as a top-tier IT lawyer in the UK for many years, and was President of the International Federation of Computer Law from 2014 to 2016.

At the very beginning of the conversation, Mr. Bickerstaff illustrated the overall structure of the presentation and the keywords of his groundbreaking philosophy:  efficiency of machines and passion of humans.
The first theme addressed was Artificial Development. Then, he gave us a big picture of the impact of AI and its consequences on society. In the end, he stressed the role of AI on professional services.

Societies have worried about technological unemployment ever since the Industrial Revolution of the late 18thcentury. Today, human minds have been replaced by the latest advances in Artificial Intelligence. Around 60% of all jobs are technically automatable and most of them are somehow depending on today’s technology.

In a nutshell, automation is good for growth and bad for equality. Human value is related to the power of interpretation: machines and robot can only calculate and provide for a systematization of a work, but they cannot interpret.

We, as students and future job seekers, should pay a great attention to the impact of AI on jobs and employment. The future labor market, indeed, will be disrupted in ways we now can’t even imagine. About 7 million new jobs will be created, and just as many could disappear.
The health sector, together with scientific and technical services, will benefit the most from AI, which would be able to create “new representative roles”: trainers, such as the worldview trainer, a person who can develop a global perspective (different cultural perspectives are considered in the process); but also explainers and sustainers.

We can distinguish three broad areas of impact:
1) The use of AI by professional services practitioners to reduce the need for paralegals and junior lawyers;
2) AI solutions by in-house legal teams in order to reduce external legal advisors and reduce costs;
3) Legal services “platforms” and the so-called “uberisation” of professional services.

In conclusion, despite the economic impact of AI remaining unclear, what is very likely is that there will be both winners and losers. What many fear, however, is that losers may turn out to be exceeding the winners. The true impact of innovation – in this terms – will be visible only in the future. For now, what we can say quite confidently is that humanity will keep striving for progress until it will be able to; the challenge is to transform the status quo without forgetting to set the right value to what we are about to leave behind. Here, one could wonder: who or what is going to set that rightness?

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