First thing we do is kill all the lawyers: The Evolution of the Legal System

If there is a single profession I despise more than that of the lawyer, I am hard pressed to think of it at the moment.  The law itself is a beautiful thing, bringing sanity and consistency to an unruly world.  The constitution of the United States, its raw simplicity and subtle power, is a document that other countries attempt to emulate.  However, where the law breaks down is through the process of human intervention. Legal frameworks have been with us since the time of Hannibal, but over this period the legal code has absorbed increasing levels of complexity.  Some of it is to right perceived wrongs, but others are to correct basic flaws in human nature.

And at the center of all this is the lawyer.  A person than exists primarily due to the past efforts of others in his profession.  One can argue that in ancient times, any reasonable person could mount his own defense as the level of legal precedent was quite small.  But now with the staggering volume of rulings, precedents, exceptions and other general BS, it is quite impossible for an individual to control their legal destiny. Thus the presence of a lawyer is a requirement if you have to darken the steps of the courthouse.

So what can the future hold for the legal profession?  The obvious answer is that the volume of information that one has to deal with is more easily managed with today’s technology.  But I submit a far more foreboding prediction for those pursuing a career in the law.  The lawyer as a profession is heading for extinction and I say good riddance to Matlock and all his cohorts.

The basic foundation of law is that it is based on reason. And one problem with the current practice of law is that reason has become clouded with subjective information.  Press conferences are the first shot in any significant legal proceeding.   The spin and propaganda are carefully crafted in an attempt to influence the potential jury pool.  This effort is so effective, juries are routinely sequestered after selection.  And the selection process itself requires a significant portion of the trial to complete what was once a  mundane task.  These attempts to game the system have nothing to do with the law.  They are playing on emotion and it subverts the very process in play.

So the obvious step is to remove the subjective element from the law.  How do we achieve that?  Well, it is elementary my dear Watson.  IBM’s Watson, that is.  This new technology, showcased so elegantly on Jeopardy, has shown the beginning of natural language processing and basic reasoning in a computing system.  Is it as good as a human?  Yes and no.  For recall of facts and simple decision making based on those facts, I’d wager Watson against most any human on the planet.  Thus, I believe you could make a case that Watson could be as good as a public defender or an assistant district attorney in digging through precedent and finding the root of an issue.  The rest will follow in time.

I would imagine that the process would work something like this.  The evidence is collected from both sides and the system decides what is relevant to the case.  It can at that point it can decide which witnesses need to be called.  Testimony is given through the direction of the system and recorded.  The final totality of all factors is summarized and presented to the jury in the form of a narrative.  It is from this dispassionate, objective narrative that they jury makes their decision. No emotion, just the facts. Cases could be decided in minutes and hours instead of days.

No more plea deals because of insufficient resources or bad representation because of overworked lawyers. Many cases are tossed out or pleaded down for these reasons. Cases that make it to court will no longer result in bankruptcy or general financial devastation for the client from legal fees. Automation for the routine cases would allow the full effect of justice to be felt and the process to be truly blind to external influence.

Granted, it sounds a little Orwellian for most people, but the jury is still there which satisfies the Constitution.  It’s just that the lawyers are taken out of the equation.  The appellate court system functions specifically for review of lower court trial errors so you have a backstop in case of system failure.

Are we there yet?  No, but I’m not sure that we are that far off.

What Google Needs for Key Lime Pie and Beyond

Jellybean has smoothed some of the rough edges of Android. Project Butter addressed one the problems of fluidity of the interface. Google Now brings the Android version of Siri to the masses. But there are few other places where Android could use some work. Here are few suggestions for the Googleplex.

Convergence – RIM, may they rest in peace, had a good thing going with the Blackberry in many respects. One feature that I miss dearly is that of messaging convergence. All communications can be viewed from a central Inbox and acted on from there as well. To some degree, the Android notifications perform this function, but they are a single shot. Once you dismiss them, you have to go to each individual messaging application to act on them. A single Inbox for all your Facebook, Linked-In, email and Google Voice messages would allow easier management of all your communications. This could be combined with a social aggregator widget. Motorola had a good idea with their Blur interface, but only a so-so implementation.

Hardware standardization – If there is one aspect of the Apple ecosystem that I envy, it is that you can plug most any iDevice into one of their connectors and route power, audio and control to an external unit. This has allowed a rich market of peripherals to exist and these devices are incorporated in diverse products such as cars, kiosks and even gym equipment. It is something woefully absent from the Android market. Yes, there are some docks, but they are proprietary for each model. A single connector standard would bring manufacturers out en mass almost immediately and would allow hardware parity with Apple.

Convenience buttons – Since the release of ICS, Google has depreciated hardware buttons, but I think this is a big mistake. A great feature of Blackberry was the presence of convenience buttons, configurable buttons that could be attached to nearly event. If you are a photographer, link one button to the camera app. If you are a search junkie, connect one to Google Now. These hardware shortcut keys would greatly increase usability.

Android Experience Index – There is a glaring problem in Android that is hurting adoption. There are a large number of really crappy devices out there that provide a poor Android experience. And unless you follow Android or are somewhat techy, you don’t really know that you might be picking up a bum device. I speak from experience. After having several less than stellar devices, I now have a Galaxy Nexus running jellybean. This is the device that finally shows me Android with the speed and fluidity where I don’t bog down. Perhaps Google should take a page from Microsoft and Windows 7 and give some type of gauge of the Android performance for a piece of hardware. This would let consumers know what they are getting into and allow them to more easily compare devices.

Advanced Bluetooth Video/Touchscreen Specification – This is the one that would shake the world. Google should author a bluetooth specification that would allow a slave touch screen to connect to an Android phone. Why, you ask? Because it would allow manufacturers to fully integrate Android to almost ANY product. Imagine for a minute if Toyota or Ford implemented such a specification. You would get into you car and you could see your phone in the dash.  The full power of the device is available to you while it is still in your pocket. No need to sync your contacts and the voice dial would be the one that you are familiar with. You could use your favorite music player on your phone. Google Navigation would fully integrate into your audio system. When you upgrade your phone, your car would have those upgrades. All the auto manufacturers would have to provide is a touchscreen and bluetooth interface.

Celebrity Muses

After the Quail Hollow golf tournament was over and Tiger failed to qualify, I started wondering about the reasons for his failure. Most of sport writers assumed that it was the recent public revelations of his infidelity and the distractions associated with it.

However, what if the issue is a little deeper. One could argue that as a professional athlete, Tiger knew exactly what he needed to be at the best in the his game. And perhaps the quenching of his libido with a harem of trashy chicks might have had medicial purposes. Medical science has established the people will subconsciously self-medicate. Perhaps these dalliances are necessary to perform at his level?

Another related example is that of Aaron Sorkin, the writer for “The West Wing”, “Sport Night” and few other well known TV shows and films. He had a rather public arrest at an airport with marijuana, mushrooms and other assorted mind altering substances. At first, he stated that he used them for the creative process. But then the PC police cracked down and he “admitted” he had a problem. Went through rehab and everything. Hasn’t written a descent script since.

In the PC world, Tiger was probably just a skirt chaser. But in the UW world, maybe not…

Am I the least interesting person in the world?

Seems like everyone on the intertubes is running their own blog, so I decided to jump in. My site at http://www.unconventional-wisdom.org houses a lot of extended essays on various topics relating to politics and technology. However, because of their formal nature, I don’t update them more than once or twice a year. There are a lot more thoughts I’m interested in expressing, so I’m going to try a little stream of consciousness posting to see where that leads. No promises. I might well end up being the least interesting person in the world. :)

Stick around and let’s see if I can amuse you.