Richard Susskind champions ‘entirely new’ lawmaking process, then tells Lords ‘I’m not as radical as you might think’

The legislature is not broken but could be a lot better

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Richard Susskind has told the House of Lords he advocates an “entirely new” legislative process that embraces technology.

Giving evidence this morning to the Constitution Committee, futurologist Susskind told his captivated audience to “take a step back” and consider doing things differently — but not too differently.

Academic, author and speaker Susskind made clear he didn’t promote giving lawmaking powers to robots, and quipped “I’m not as radical as you might think”. He said:

I’m absolutely not here today to say you take the discretion, the judgement, the creativity and the constitutional responsibility and the legislative responsibility away from human beings and give it to machines.

Richard Susskind giving evidence today as pal Lord Pannick QC looks on
Richard Susskind giving evidence today as pal Lord Pannick QC looks on

Susskind — who thinks law schools should change their teaching strategies to reflect technological developments — continued:

I’m saying we can probably adopt a rather different view of how it is we make the law available and how we change and update it.

He specifically advocated a “legislative information system”. This organisation-wide integrated workflow system would acknowledge the huge amounts of documents lawmakers contend with and “overcome inefficiencies of paper-based systems”. Later on in his evidence giving, Susskind discussed the introduction of rules that “automatically update themselves” when events happen.

University of Glasgow graduate Susskind did, however, note that there are a number of barriers to adopting such a tech-heavy system.

Unless you have strong leadership, he argued, automation and innovation “never happen”. He also noted that lawyers and legislatures — given their deference to precedent — tend to be more conservative than their commercial counterparts and therefore more resistant to change. Though the fear of the unknown is in some ways legitimate, the least likely outcome in our world is that nothing is going to change, so legislatures need to be pro-active in embracing this change.

You can listen to Susskind’s evidence in full here.

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14 Comments

Anonymous

No. Closer to c*nt who never goes away when their predictions go wrong. Even Meg went away eventually

(9)(1)
Anonymous

Susskind is a bit like a 2 penny Nostradamus. Predictions proved to be bullsh*t many times over, yet some clowns still claim he knows our future.

He’s essentially put all his chips in his crackpot vision of the future, and now he has to stick, with the perfect poker face, before he inevitably goes bust.

(12)(0)
Anonymous

I don’t think Susskind is a crackpot. I think he has legitimate claims to make about our future. Such as his claim that technology will take over. I do not think this claim should be underestimated. We just haven’t seen enough tangible evidence of its transformative power.

Entertain for just a few minutes the thought that technology becomes fully networked and advanced enough to predict many outcomes for policy decisions. Should the people get in the systems way by clinging on to past habits? Or could we instead use our current day resources (mental and physical) to make the path easier to a technological infrastructure?

I think Susskind is on to something, we just can’t articulate it in an attractive way because it may spell the end of everything we have grown to love about our legal system.

(4)(9)
Anonymous

The first rule of robotics is ‘thou shalt not quote Richard Susskind and expect to be taken seriously.’

(9)(1)
Anonymous

The first rule of debate is not to make the mistake of appealing to authority, even in its opposite sense, by asserting that this man has no authority.

(3)(5)
Not Amused

Yes … you see the way to spot a bullshitter, is to watch very careful and see if they talk in bullshit. If you are really very careful and watch terribly closely you might just spot it:

“He specifically advocated a “legislative information system”. This organisation-wide integrated workflow system would acknowledge the huge amounts of documents lawmakers contend with and “overcome inefficiencies of paper-based systems”. “

(3)(0)
Anonymous

Not bulls shit, just jargon. The idea is sensible – digitise all paperwork in the courts. Simples. Not really the end of lawyers though….

(0)(0)
Anonymous

He is basically writing down what Singapore lawyers achieved years ago and saying the UK will follow suit.

(1)(0)
Anonymous

The Good Professor is truly the legal profession’s busted flush.

Since he wrote The End of Lawyers our profession has grown in size by about 50%.

Why does anyone take this charlatan seriously…?

(3)(0)
Anonymous

This guy is boring with a questionable track record for his predictions.

(4)(0)
Anonymous

As a spot who closely follows legal AI companies I can say one thing: only about 1 in 20 of the legal AI people I talk to agrees with Susskind’s view on the demise of lawyers. The vast majority see AI and other automation systems working hand in hand with lawyers and making them more productive. In short, ‘a good thing’.

But, that said, many legal techies do respect Susskind for developing ideas such as the ‘legal engineer’, i.e. the people in your firm that bridge the gap between the very dull IT people and the real needs of the lawyers.

I guess that’s the thing with theoretical pioneers, they stimulate a debate, get half their predictions wrong, but in the end inspire a lot of new people to take things forward.

(1)(0)
Anonymous

Ha…sorry, meant to write ‘spod’….not spot. Blooming LC spell checker….blooming technology….

(1)(0)

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