A Predictions Compilation

December 11, 2017

From Paul Berwin

People will talk about blockchain even more and
understand it just as little; but blockchain-enabled applications in public and
health services will become commonplace and mainstream.

Innovation and not just cheap workforces coming
out of eastern Europe will be recognised as a major driver.

The demand for the Psion 5 will rocket, from
just me, to me and one other.

Pencils will be made GDPR compliant by having an
eraser at one end.

A national election will be abandoned because of
the volume of hacking.

Another ransomware attack affecting health
services will cause loss of life.

Legal software houses will struggle with
innovation in data analysis, smart document production, GDPR compliance and AI,
and a number will be acquired or close.

Paul Berwin is a Solicitor and Senior
Partner and Director at Berwins Solicitors

From Anna Cook

I predict that there will be strides in
Assistive AI, particularly in the health sector. There are strong public health
reasons to promote the release of large datasets to enable machine
learning. The loss of the EMA and the pressures on the NHS will
amplify the arguments that our health records should be used to develop these
technologies. However, this requires policy change, public education and a
well-executed strategy to manage data privacy. Unfortunately, although we may
hear a lot from data scientists, technology companies and academics, I do not
expect much progress in the UK because of the experience of Care.Data and the
distractions of Brexit.

I expect that businesses will continue to make
themselves more flexible and resilient. This has put some of the larger
relationships and contracts under strain, in favour of cloud-based,
multi-vendor solutions. Software vendors are aggressively pursuing their rights
against customers to protect their confidential information and to prevent
unlicensed software usage. This seems to be a reaction to the change in the
market but it is also contributing to an environment in which customers feel
the need to mitigate the risk of being too dependent on a supplier.

I expect growing pressure on the technology giants
to address public perceptions about their behaviour as corporate citizens,
including the safety of their forums and the payment of tax. Although there is
greater public awareness about how social media platforms can be manipulated, I
do not expect much change to online behaviour in 2018.

Anna Cook is a Partner at Bristows. She is
also a Trustee of the Society of Computers and Law and a member of its
Editorial Advisory Board.

From Clive Davies

When I commenced practising law, the ultimate
reference point for research was a hard copy practitioner’s book or a law
report available in the hallowed halls of the law firm’s library or, if that
failed, the Law Society library in Chancery Lane. Since then we lawyers have
evolved as a species to the point where we now readily accept that most of our
legal research will be done online using services such as Lexis Nexis or PLC –
or sometimes in extremis just Googling the question.

In 2018 we will finally realise that the future is
apps and all known legal knowledge from the omnipresent Global Data Protection
Regulation to cases on the finer points of indemnities will be sitting on our
smartphones in the form of an app. And we will have to accept them as the
future – as Charles Darwin said: ‘It is not the strongest of the species that
survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the
most adaptable to change’.

Clive Davies is Senior Counsel at Fujitsu
and a Fellow of SCL

From Emily Foges

Artificial intelligence in the legal profession has
truly come of age. This makes it a hugely exciting time to be at the forefront
of technology innovation for the sector.

In the past, legal AI platforms have used bespoke
solutions to assist lawyers in the complex field of due diligence. Looking
ahead, with a new generation of machine learning that can learn and understand
in a similar way to the human brain, we will see a growth in popularity of
technology that is easy to adopt and no longer requires extensive training.

A key challenge I see in the future is tackling the
notion of ‘accuracy’, which should never be applicable in the legal profession.
Different lawyers may disagree on interpretations, so judgement is key. With
the risk of missing important contractual details inherent in any due diligence
process, manual or otherwise, I think we will see an even greater appetite for
AI technology that does not replace the role of the lawyer, but speeds up the
review process to give lawyers more ‘thinking time’.

Emily Foges is CEO of Luminance

From Dr Monica Horten 

Regulatory alignment, regulatory divergence or even
regulatory shadowing – what will it all mean for communications and technology
industries, and  the users of their
services, in 2018?

In Britain, we face a time-limited question, the
response to which will have consequences for years to come. I am of course
referring to the 8 December political agreement on the terms of the Brexit
‘divorce’. Amidst all the smoke and mirrors, this agreement is only the
precursor to a detailed final agreement. It does not close off the arguments
about hard vs soft, or even Norway vs Canada vs Singapore. On the contrary, it
is the first snip of the fabric and the hard bargaining is only just beginning.

Regulatory alignment with the Single Market would
seem to be the EU bottom line, but the language in the negotiators’ joint
report is, probably deliberately, opaque. In the case of a ‘no-deal’ scenario,
the severity of the consequences for Britain could be dependent on the
interpretation of the ‘full alignment’ language. As I write this, I have seen a
multiplicity of interpretations ranging from a limited manoeuvre, to a complete
sea-change of direction.

So will we be inside or outside, aligned or
diverging, excluded or shadowing? The position taken will be critical with
regard to the Digital Single Market.

Communications and technology industries have had a
low profile in the public debate compared with other sectors, but it is clear
that they will not escape the consequences. There are issues yet to be resolved
with regard to Digital Single Market (DSM) policy, such as intermediary
liability and copyright (Article 13 of the proposed new Copyright Directive) or
video-sharing platforms (Article 28 of the proposed new Audio-visual Media
Services Directive). It is arguably in our national interest to be able to
shape these outcomes. Britain already has decreasing influence, yet ‘full
alignment’ presumes we will retain an interest for the long term.

The political decision will determine the future
opportunities for British digital businesses. Large technology and
communications  businesses can adapt, for
example, by moving their servers to an 
EU27 jurisdiction, but smaller players and users could be
negatively  impacted in the face of a
‘shifting sands’ regulatory landscape.

How to square these different circles to get the
best for British technology businesses and Internet users – that is the
challenge for 2018.

Dr Monica Horten is a Visiting Fellow at
the London School of Economics & Political Science, Council of Europe
expert and author (The Closing of the Net (Polity, 2016)  http://amzn.to/1S6zxJ7).
Twitter: @Iptegrity Website: http://www.iptegrity.com

From Rev Adrian Kennard (@TheRealRevK)

What is

drones for one, they are being sold in all sizes to the public with no warnings
about legal usage, and so the possibility of actually enforcing the existing
laws is going to be increasingly slim. I wonder if laws will have to change, if
only for really small ones that are not such a safety risk. I think that in the
long term the solution is technical, ie drones with such good defensive systems
and sensors, and built in no fly zones, and so on, that even an idiot or
malicious user would have a hard time doing anything harmful – and then laws
allowing those types of drones. I bet we see some sort of issue in 2018
especially with so many sold over this Christmas.

The crypto
wars continue – battles with Apple and WhatsApp, etc. Usually tech wins such
battles for lots of good reasons, but who knows? Maybe we’ll see attempts to
use the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 on someone in 2018.

vs privacy is the other closely related war, and again, these different legal
fronts are clashing – where will the balance come? Will we see some of the IPA
surveillance stuff in 2018? Of course we probably won’t know about it even if
it happens.

A similar
battle exists for commerce vs privacy, and we have GDPR coming in there. Will
the provisions work as expected, protecting privacy, or will some be unworkable
in practice? We’ll definitely see some issues in 2018, I am sure.

cars are always a fun topic. My prediction there is simple – the issues will
not be decided by tech or law, but by insurance companies using cold
statistics. Tech will improve and usage will be legal, and
insurance premiums will ‘drive’ people to go for self-driving and
assisted-driving cars. The question is, perhaps, which of these milestones will
we see in 2018 https://xkcd.com/1925/

Will we
see the first enforcement of EU Net Neutrality laws in 2018? I wonder.

Rev. Adrian
Kennard is the MD of UK-based ISP Andrews & Arnold Ltd – Twitter: @The

From Matthew Lavy

I see 2018 largely as a year of continuity:
blockchain will continue to buzz as ever more exotic use cases promise to
revolutionise the world (or at least attract generous funding); GDPR readiness
and implementation activities will continue at an ever more frenzied pace as
the need to do at least something will seep into the consciousness of even
those for whom the phrase ‘Article 29 Working Party’ is assumed to be a
StarTrek reference; applications of AI will become more and more impressive and
pervasive (and more and more applications of good old-fashioned statistics will
be marketed as AI); as efforts to thwart cyber-attacks continue to be only
partially successful, CISOs will increasingly be recognised as the Oracles that
they were always born to be; and as the sun sets at the year end, we will be
just that little bit closer to 19th January 2038, when 32-bit clocks will
herald the long-awaited return to 1970.

Matthew Lavy is a barrister at 4 Pump Court
and a SCL Trustee.

From Lucy McCormick

2018 will be the year of the driverless truck

We’ve all heard about driverless cars, but what
about driverless trucks? In November 2017, Tesla launched a new vehicle, the
fully electric Tesla Semi. With a range of 500 miles, the truck comes with
‘Enhanced Autopilot’, the second generation of Tesla’s semi-autonomous technology,
which includes automatic braking, lane keeping, and lane departure warnings.
And where Tesla goes, others follow.

Moreover, the UK government has provided £8.1m in
funding for trials of ‘platooning’ in 2018. Platooning is the concept whereby
wirelessly connected HGVs travel in convoy, with acceleration, braking and
steering controlled by the lead vehicle. The technology is hoped to have major
benefits, notably by way of vehicles in the slipstream using less fuel.
However, there are concerns that, inter alia, platoons could make access to
motorway exits difficult for other drivers.

During testing, the drivers in the ‘non-lead’
vehicle will be required to monitor the situation carefully. In the medium
term, the hope is that such drivers would be able to relax or complete
paperwork while the front vehicle is in charge. Looking further forward, it may
ultimately be possible for a ‘remote driver’ to handle multiple trucks from an
office, leaving the vehicles to their own devices on simpler motorway sections
and taking control manually via VR for the last few miles of the route. (See eg
the work of Skarsky Robotics).

Bearing in mind that over 2.5 million people work
in the UK haulage industry, making it our fifth largest employer, the
developments in this area are worth a bit of crystal ball gazing. 

Lucy McCormick is a commercial barrister at
Henderson Chambers.  She a leading expert in Connected and
Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) and the co-author of Law and Driverless Cars
(Routledge, forthcoming 2018). She tweets from @LawofDriverless.

From Sue McLean

We will spend more time drafting terms for
chatbots, than apps.

The largest digital transformation projects will
be in Industrial IoT.

The Information Commissioner’s Office won’t
issue a mega-fine.

(If they haven’t already), financial
institutions will accept that their standard meaty tech contracts don’t work
when partnering with small FinTechs and will come up with more appropriate
starting points.

Companies will start developing their own AI
policies and frameworks. The government’s AI plans to set up a government
department for AI, AI council and Centre for Data Ethics might come to
fruition, if Brexit doesn’t zap all energies. And maybe we’ll finally learn
what those proposed ‘data trusts’ actually mean in practice.

With respect to one of the hottest technologies
on the block(chain), I expect we might starting moving down from Gartner’s peak
of inflated expectations to, if not a trough of disillusionment, a more
realistic level of discussion about the technology. Blockchain will become
increasingly mainstream, education levels will rise, we will see some
successful applications of the technology, while other pilots and proof of
concepts will fail or won’t progress any further.

On the other hot topic, Initial Coin Offerings
(ICOs), I expect we will see continued regulatory interest and enforcement of
bad actors. In reaction, we will see the sector trying to create
self-regulatory frameworks and best practices, with fewer mega-rounds and more
careful consideration of how to run token sales and vet participants.

Sue McLean is a Technology and Fintech
Partner at Baker McKenzie

From Sam Moore and Callum Sinclair

2017 was a
breakthrough year for legal technology in terms of broad acceptance and
adoption of particular applications. We believe that 2018 will be a year of
‘multipliers’, ie how those discrete legal tech products can be interfaced with
one another, and leveraged to become greater than the sum of their parts. This
will necessitate a deeper understanding of package APIs and degrees of data
interoperability, concepts which until now have received relatively little
attention from the profession. Artificial intelligence will continue to provide
new tools, but increasingly we will need emotional intelligence to wield them
and keep the ‘service’ in ‘legal services’. 

communication has always been crucial to good client service, and we believe
2018 will bring specific innovations in how we lawyers communicate with our
clients in an increasingly data-centric world. We expect to see new tools
coming to the market to streamline how we share key information at each step,
and giving our clients better visibility of their data. The days of playing
‘phone tag’ may finally come to a welcome end, if clients can access real-time
data about their matters via new project collaboration or reporting tools.

Sam Moore is a Legal Technologist (Qualified
Solicitor) AMBCS at Burness Paull LLP; Callum Sinclair is a Partner and Head of
the Technology Sector and Divisional Head of Commercial at Burness Paull LLP

From Mark O’Conor

By June we will all be suffering GDPR fatigue (if
we are not already), but:

In parallel, we will unfortunately be likely to
see more state on state cyber attacks which may go further than has so far been
the case, paralysing that state and all who commercially connect with it.

The AI debate will continue, quite rightly at
the ethical and social impact level, however we will be no closer to specific
AI laws, preferring instead to reply on the application of existing concepts
(IMHO a ‘good thing’).

And finally, the SCL will (amongst other
initiatives for 2018) champion a series of Better Contract ideas, taking the
discussion from the theoretical to the practical, which will hopefully cause a
re-appraisal of exactly what the contracting parties are seeking to achieve in
a commercial contract.

Mark O’Conor is a Partner at DLA Piper (UK)
LLP and is Chair of SCL.

From Jane Seager

As I predicted last year, 2017 was a time of
contemplation as far as the ICANN New generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) Program
was concerned, and this will continue on into 2018 as ICANN liaises with the
Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice (CCT) Review Team, appointed to
assess the extent to which the introduction of new gTLDs has promoted
competition, consumer choice and consumer trust in the Domain Name System (DNS)
and the effectiveness of both the application processes and the safeguards put
in place to combat abuse (such as the rights protection mechanisms used by
brand owners). Given this period of reflection, the next application round is
widely predicted to be in 2020 at the earliest. However, I predict that in 2018
companies will start to use their .BRAND TLDs in much more visible and
innovative ways, meaning that participation in the next round will become
essential for those that have yet to take the plunge, and we will see an
increasing number of high-value sales of new gTLDs as their use goes mainstream
and companies realize that acquiring a shorter, punchier new gTLD may make more
sense than a longer and more expensive .COM.

On the downside, WIPO announced in March 2017 that
cybersquatting had hit an all-time high, likely driven by the huge increase in
new gTLDs (around 23.5 million domain names have now been registered under
approximately 1,200 new gTLDs), and this trend is set to continue, keeping
brand owners on their toes and forcing them to consider new strategies as
defensive registrations become less of a viable option. Having said this,
country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) are still big business, with over 20
million domain names registered under .CN (China) alone. This increase in the
use of ccTLDs may be due to a number of factors, for example many Registries
have relaxed their eligibility requirements in recent years, meaning that a
local presence and/or a local trade mark is no longer necessary to register a
domain name, and a number have launched registrations directly at the top level
(for example registrations directly under .UK are now possible, as opposed to
.CO.UK at the second level). This trend will run on in 2018 with .AU
(Australia) planning to open registrations directly under .AU soon (this will
be no easy task, as demonstrated by the complex allocation rules applied by
other ccTLDs to deal with competing rights at the second level).

The increasing popularity of so called ‘domain
hacks’ (where the entire domain name may be read as one word or phrase, for
example <rad.io>) is set to continue, and has certainly served many lucky
ccTLDs well (Montenegro’s use of .ME is particularly innovative). However,
increases in other forms of trickery, such as homograph spoofing, are far less
welcome for brand owners: the increase in Internationalized Domain names (IDNs)
using characters outside of those used in traditional English has meant that
malicious registrants have been able to include look-alike characters from
other languages to register domain names that are almost visually
indistinguishable from those of established brands and put them to fraudulent
use (for example as email addresses). Unfortunately, with the globalization of
the internet, this is a phenomenon that we are likely to hear more of in 2018.

Finally, I predict that the debate that is
currently raging within the domain name community on the impact of the GDPR on
Whois will continue into 2018 and beyond, but hopefully any eventual solution
will permit the continued efficiency of brand protection online.

Jane Seager is a Partner at Hogan Lovells
(Paris) LLP

From Gideon Shirazi

As 2017 draws to a close, it is hard to look back
at this year without thinking of the number of large cyber attacks and the slow
creep of AI into legal practice. And, with the GDPR shortly coming into force,
2018 is bound to see hacking heat up. My predictions are that 2018 will see
these trends continue:

The chatbot parking tickets challenger system
will be expand into other areas of law… but with much more limited success

Uber will face the largest data protection fine

A mega data breach will bring down a major

The UK Supreme Court will decide that change
control clauses do have some effect – but don’t bind

Bitcoin prices will crash

A FinTech company will go big… and float on the
LSE straight into the FTSE250

(Sorry, Richard) The launch of the Online Court
will be postponed indefinitely

 Gideon Shirazi is a barrister at 4 Pump Court