In a very thoughtful set of predictions, Roger Bickerstaff on what he spotted and what he missed and the exciting and challenging times ahead
From Roger Bickerstaff
Looking back at my predictions from 10 years ago it is pleasing that my predictions for 2007 on the increasing use of the open source software in the mainstream business environment and the increasing virtualisation of Tech solutions has occurred in practice. That may be pleasing but it is galling that I did not pick-up at the time on the Tech everywhere/all the time phenomenon. I'm writing these predictions on an airplane journey and virtually everyone awake on the plane is focussed on some form of Tech device of one sort or another. I didn’t see that coming.
Looking forward over the next year and beyond, the implications of the increasing combination of Tech everywhere/all the time and artificial intelligence (in its various guises) will be profound on all of us in ways that are equally hard to predict. Many of these developments will be beneficial. From a personal perspective, as I get older and increasingly forgetful this is already less important as electronic aids provide access to more or less every fact that I need to know. But the wider impact of automation on society and the professions (including legal services) will be significant, widespread and (I believe) rather faster than most people expect.
In the shorter-term, as lawyers we need to grapple with the regulatory and risk/liability implications of the inherently probabilistic nature of AI in a legal framework which remains essentially deterministic. This is the everyday work of Tech lawyers – we deal continuously with the legal implications of Technology developments. In the longer term, the significance of AI means that, as Tech lawyers who have a good understanding of the issues, I believe we have a responsibility to consider the development of a legal framework governing the wider economic and social implications of the widespread use of AI. It could be a ‘brave new world’ but it could be disastrous.
This makes the concerns of the predictions of 10 years ago seem narrow and parochial. They are. Whilst most of us continue to deal with the narrower business/legal issues on a day-to-day basis, we also need to think more broadly and take leadership on these issues.
These are exciting and challenging times for Tech lawyers
Roger Bickerstaff is a Partner at Bird & Bird and SCL Fellow: www.twobirds.com