Kraków – where AI meets the law

22 December 2014 by Michał Łopuszyński

Recently, I was lucky enough to participate in the JURIX 2014 conference, taking place in Kraków, 10-12 December 2014. This was an event aimed at injecting the advancements of computer science into the legal domain. I must admit that the Organizers really achieved their goal. At least from my strongly computer-scientish perspective...

During the conference, I presented a proof-of-concept study on how to detect and analyze topical trends in public procurement judgments. You can have a look at my poster, preprint or paper. Being able to present your work and gather feedback is great (by the way, I am very grateful for all questions and comments during poster session). However, listening to other talks is even fancier! Especially that JURIX 2014 provided loads of interesting stuff for me...

At the heart of each conference there are the invited talks. JURIX was no exception. Both of them were stunning.

On the first day, Noam Slonim presented the research related to the IBM Debating Technologies Project. Following the previous endeavour, that is WATSON, IBM comes up with a new challenge. WATSON was created, roughly speaking, to answer sophisticated questions formulated in the natural language. Now IBM wants to teach the machine to search for claims pro or against a given topic, together with the evidence supporting it. Typical topics could be banning violent video games or permitting performance enhancing drugs in sports. To get the feeling, what is it like to debate with the machine just spare 3 minutes to watch this video. If you are interested in the science behind, read the very fresh papers of the IBM Debator group – ACL Argumentation Mining Workshop 2014 paper or COLING 2014 paper. For me the most amazing thing is that this debating technology works on the basis of a large body of raw text (e.g., Wikipedia). You basically make the computer read, understand and find only the very relevant information for you. As Noam pointed out, this is not another search engine, this is a research engine!

Second talk, despite very difficult task, was a great match to the first one. Pieter Adriaans talked about measures of information present in the data. This talk addressed very fundamental questions, which, sadly, are not asked frequently enough in the age of the Big Data fuss. The roots of this subject date back to the giants – Shanon, Fisher and Kolmogorov. You can have a look at this very interesting paper full of insights and further references.

Except keynotes, there were a lot of interesting talks involving a large variety of subjects such, as linked data, legal information interchange standards/datasets, Bayesian networks, legal information retrieval systems, computer aided analysis of legislation, etc. Browse the (unfortunately pay-walled) proceedings, if you are hungry for more. The conference was accompanied by four workshops and doctoral consortium. The Organizers decided for parallel sessions scenario. Therefore, it was impossible for see all the interesting stuff. For me the definite highlights were the semantic workshop SW4LAW and the network analysis NAiL2014 workshop. Luckily proceedings from both are freely available on-line here and there.

Altogether, JURIX 2014 was very fruitful conference for me. I have learnt a lot about AI, law, and the intersection of both domains. Big "thank you" for the Organizers! I hope to make it to Braga in 2015!

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