3 min read

Fringe Legal #22: State of AI 2020 / simple way one company reduced phishing / Physics of the Law

Wow, it's been quite a week. The whole world watched intently, and it feels like one of those weeks where decades happen.

Here are 3 things that were worth sharing.


This is not a newsletter about AI - however, I track the state of development of artificial intelligence with great interest.

A great resource to get a broad view is the State of AI Report. In its third year, it's produced by Ian Hogarth and Nathan Benaich, and includes an in-depth analysis of the research, talent, industry, politics, and predictions.

Some of the interesting takeaways for me were:

  • AI research is much less open than it seems from the outside, with only 15% of papers publishing their code
  • Many researchers believe that progress in mature areas of machine learning is stagnant. Whereas new use cases for NLP are being explored readily
  • US AI ecosystem is fueled by foreign talent; the majority of top AI researchers working in the US were not trained in the US
  • Autonomous vehicles policies have been enacted in over half of all US states
  • Many countries are now wrestling with how to regulate the use of machine learning in decision making
  • Some predictions for what's to come (see image below from the report)

University College London hosted a panel (which included Ian and Nathan) discussing the report and the future of artificial intelligence. It's well worth a watch.

Download the 2020 report here | Watch the panel on understanding artificial intelligence's future trajectories (89 minutes)


The recording for Vol. 2 of Chatter is now available - in 30 minutes, my friend Vincent Michetti and I talk about a range of topics (half legal specifics and half general interest). Here's the summary:

  • Deloitte buys Kemp Little: Deloitte UK has bought the law firm Kemp Little, which adds 86 lawyers (inc. 29 partners) to the company's legal roster. We've been through this before; throughout the 1990s, the Big Five accounting firms (as they were at the time)—Arthur Andersen, KPMG, Ernst & Young (EY), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and Deloitte—made a concerted effort to enter the legal services market. It was relatively successful but was shut down following a wave of accounting scandals that saw the fall of Arthur Andersen, and new regulation introduced that restricted the Big 4 to offer non-auditing services to audit clients.
  • ILTA Tech Survey: the annual ILTA tech survey was published recently, which collected responses from 470 firms, 103k+ lawyers, and 208k+ users. Overall, there was a much higher focus on the Cloud (lots of O365, exchange online, Cloud with next upgrade), distributed workplaces (how will firms' IT teams support home offices), and change management continues to be the top of mind issue.
  • How to Stop Phishing: we talked around this Reddit post, which discussed a simple change that reduced a simple hack that reduced the number of people that fell for a phishing count to zero.

For fun, watch this TED video from 2015 on what happens when you respond to spammers.

Listen to the recording here



For those interested, the Physics of the Law conference takes place this week (12-13 Nov.). It'll be hosted online and is free to register and attend.

The conference is a collection of presentations on various scientific papers. It may be of particular interest to those that enjoy a deep (perhaps technical) dive into the nexus between complex science and law.

Find out more/register here

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