Star Trek: The Original Series debuted more than 51 years ago—on September 8, 1966. Produced by Lucille Ball’s company Desilu, the show exposed viewers to fantastical technology no one had ever seen before. The average viewer in 1966 could hardly have imagined that some of that technology would become ubiquitous: handheld communicators (first flip phones and then smartphones), personal access display devices (affectionately called iPads or tablets), voice recognition and voice interface (Siri and Alexa), wireless in-ear communicators (Bluetooth, despite what Uhura may have called hers), portable storage devices (flash drives), a transporter able to locate a crew member (while we can’t de- and rematerialize them yet, a GPS can find that lost crew), and video calls (can you see me now? Facetime and Skype).
While warp drive may still be off in the future, artificial intelligence is infiltrating the legal field. AI is changing the business and practice of law. Many fear that AI will put lawyers out of business. Technology has made us more efficient, more accurate, and better able to provide for our clients. For example, an AI chatbot has overturned 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York (and its developer is planning on expansion). Or, if your information was compromised at Equifax, another AI lawyer will help you sue for up to $15,000. Despite these advances, I remain hopeful and even confident that lawyers will still be needed into the future. Even Captain Kirk and Data needed lawyers in the 22nd and 23rd centuries.