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Will ROSS:
The Super Intelligent Attorney
Replace Attorneys?


Computer Forensics Expert / Data Security Articles

By Scott Greene

What is Watson?

IBM’s Watson platform, named after Thomas J. Watson, IBM’s founder, is a super computing platform. According to the Watson website: “Watson represents a first step into cognitive systems, a new era of computing. It uses programmatic computing plus the combination of three additional capabilities that make Watson truly unique: natural language processing, hypothesis generation and evaluation, and dynamic learning.”

IBM Watson Supercomputer - Computer Forensics Expert

IBM's Watson Super Computer Wins the Game Show: Jeopardy!

The goal of this platform is to be able to give Watson a large set of data and have it process the data and generate a hypothesis. The site goes on to say: “Through repeated use, Watson literally gets smarter by tracking feedback from its users and learning from both successes and failures.”

Back in 2011 Watson appeared on the Jeopardy game show, where it won, hands down, over two of Jeopardy’s greatest champions.

The Watson development team recently moved into Watson's global headquarters, at 51 Astor Place in New York City, NY.

Here comes ROSS:

A group of University of Toronto students decided to leverage the power of the Watson Platform and have a new startup venture "ROSS" that built a legal application. The students did so as part of a contest held by IBM as part of IBM’s Watson University Competition. The Toronto students took second place in the IBM contest.

The students have apparently loaded a significant body of law onto a Watson Platform. Attorneys and non-attorneys alike are then able to use natural language to ask questions of the platform such as: “ROSS, in Ontario, can courts pierce the corporate veil where a corporation has misappropriated funds?" ROSS then reads through the entire body of law and returns a cited answer and topical readings from case law, legislation and secondary sources to get you up-to-speed quickly.

The startup touts ROSS as a “digital legal expert that helps you power through your legal research.”

What makes ROSS so powerful is Watson’s ability to learn. The more attorneys use it, the better the answers get.

ROSS takes advantage of the natural language and cognitive computing platform of Watson.  The system has the ability to case outcome, assess legal precedents, and suggest readings related to the attorney’s case. The ROSS team is signing up customers for pilot programs.

ROSS already has a huge volume of knowledge to rely upon from the public records which Watson, no doubt, went out and found on its own. Once real-time data feeds are available from the court systems, Watson will improve every day. In addition, ROSS will monitor the law around the clock to notify the attorney of new court decisions that can affect their case. This feature is akin to Google’s “Google Alert”.

LexisNexis, headquartered in Dayton, OH and Thomson Reuters based in New York, NY have to be quaking in their boots. Both companies provided legal research and legal content to law firms. ROSS with its intelligence may provide better answers.

What happens when ROSS goes public? Will it reach the point where it can argue in court? And if Ross should go public, a lot of people are going to question whether they need lawyers at all.

According to IBM, the company will continue supplying the ROSS team with access to Watson’s cloud platform.


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