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Planet Lex: The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Podcast

Planet Lex is a series of conversations about the law, law and society, law and technology, and the future of legal education and practice. In other words, a bunch of interesting stuff about the law.
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Planet Lex: The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Podcast
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Oct 19, 2016

In this episode of Planet Lex, host Daniel Rodriguez speaks with Northwestern Pritzker School of Law George C. Dix Professor in Constitutional Law John McGinnis and Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Larry Birnbaum about emergent technology and its effects on the law. Dan opens the interview by reminding everyone that it has been 10 years since the publication of Raymond Kurzweil’s book, “The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology,” and poses the question of exactly how close we are to the day when computer intelligence surpasses human intelligence. Larry shares his belief that the singularity is coming, though the time table is unknown. John agrees and states that the victory of IBM’s computer system Watson over its human competition on Jeopardy shows the accelerating technology and that software and connectivity are improving, in addition to hardware computation. Both guests analyze how this technology might significantly impact intermediary positions within the workforce and consider the implications on the practice of law. Larry concludes that there are many aspects to lawyering and that you have to break down those segments to figure out which will or will not be adversely affected. John does not anticipate emergent tech putting lawyers out of business in the near future, but does think it is the beginning of how society integrates some of that tech into the work that humans will still do and feels that we’ll see a long evolution of progress in this area. Both guests evaluate the ways in which tech innovation might improve overall equality in society. They close the interview with an analysis of how difficult it is for our regulatory structure to keep up with advancements in technology and the issues present in making the risks associated with these advancements understandable to people.

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