----- Original Message -----
From: "Adrian Tymes" <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, December 28, 2001 1:40 AM
> I currently work for a subsidiary of West Legal Group, the megacorp that
> owns the copyright on the reference system most US lawyers use to refer
> to US laws and cases. Or, in short: they think they own the law in the
> US, and they're arguably right from a certain point of view.
Funny -- I had an interesting discussion about West's ownership of legal IP
and the episodic assaults on that monopoly position with a very bright
Chinese lawyer just a few days ago!
> Anyway, I was discussing the idea of lawyer-bots with my group's CTO,
> and how we might be able to develop them.
> But unless I can get past the
> interface problem (different interface? different product?), no dice in
> this approach.
> Does anyone here has any practical suggestions on how to solve this
I've been thinking about it for going on 20 years. Unfortunately, this is a
bad time for me to try to put my thoughts down in bits. A hint at the
direction of my thinking over the years: The West key-numbering system is a
first, primitive step toward the kind of real semantic encoding necessary
for any AI to get a "grip" on the reservoir of emergent wisdom that is the
great body of reported common law decisions. As any good law student will
tell you, though, the key-numbering system is missing a major piece, since
it doesn't encode the relationship of the statements of legal premises and
conclusions to the matrix of factual context in the case being indexed.
What's needed is a kind of "factual mark-up language" to embed these legal
concepts in the context that gives them meaning as a resource for reasoning
by analogy. The best direction for this I've developed in my own thinking
is a standardize symbology and syntax for describing party-relationships and
transactional dynamics. I've sketched out such a symbology and syntax
before, and would be very surprised if you couldn't find such a system
having been developed by some academic with more time than I have to pursue
I agree that if any company in the world has a motivation to fund such work,
it would be West; but your employer has been notoriously slow to adopt
technological innovation -- perhaps because of their long history of
Vice-President, Extropy Institute
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