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The Future of eDiscovery: AI and Machine Translation

In 2012, the Rand Corporation found that an eye-watering 73% of e-discovery costs are attributed to document review alone. Identifying, collecting and processing data each have their own challenges, and the manual processes behind these tasks are equally daunting in any given case.

In the era of big data, where new sources of discoverable content appear daily, eDiscovery has its golden moment to marry up with technologies that take away the sheer time and cost involved in electronic discovery for legal proceedings.

Artificial intelligence

An early 2018 survey by Consilio found that 93% of lawyers surveyed thought that artificial intelligence (AI) will prove helpful to the legal sector.

With technology-assisted review (TAR) already being advocated by courts and gaining huge traction among law firms worldwide, lawyers see the clear benefit from this technology, witnessing its increasing use in the past five years.

Predictive coding and computer-assisted review have also taken off in recent years – but lawyers are hungry for more, as shown by the explosive growth in the AI supported eDiscovery marketplace

In comes machine translation

In the same way that TAR initially had a slow uptake, machine translation has – in recent years – been in the shadows. Still dogged with a reputation for laughable quality and shaky security, machine translation has understandably had trouble in getting off the ground in the legal world.

What most in the legal industry aren’t aware of is giant leap forward that has taken place in the language industry recently. Seen as a key to unleashing growth in the tech industry, tech giants, such as Amazon and Facebook, have joined the charge towards gaining quality and efficiency in the machine translation world, and pumped millions into research and new machine translation tools.

The results have propelled machine translation into the 21st century – a new algorithm known as “neural machine translation" – has dramatically improved results, and new providers are hosting totally secure solutions.

These developments are a giant step forward for law firms who are integrating these solutions into the eDiscovery process and handling multilingual eDiscovery cases with more ease. Imagine having a case with several languages to sift through – it takes an already complicated process and creates uncertainty and additional workflows to satisfy your discovery requirements. But, machine translation is a strong antidote to this problem, and is quietly revolutionizing the process and service offerings of the top eDiscovery players. What was once a headache is quickly becoming another run-of-the-mill case thanks to advances in technology.

A question mark on security

Security is, and always will be a top concern for lawyers and eDiscovery professionals. With the GDPR directives and similar legislature on the horizon, protecting data is the number one priority. Computers are starting to ‘think’ more in the way that people can, not by simple rote learning but by neural network architectures; a kind of lateral thinking for machines. As natural language processing algorithms have improved, it’s possible to ask computers more complex questions and to get the right answers. Big data is leading to even bigger advances, and so far, AI, TAR and machine translation, through a specialized language service provider, are keeping up with the needs of eDiscovery cases and the legal industry.

Staying ahead of the competition

One thing that’s clear is that technology has always given a competitive advantage to those firms that can afford it. With eDiscovery traditionally being a heavily manual procedure, secure technology is warmly welcome. Machine translation, while relatively new on the scene, is set to become a game changer for the industry looking to find an edge over other providers, as the uptake of TAR and predictive coding reaches its peak. But with security and data protection at the top of the agenda, don’t plug data into public engines – make sure you choose a secure provider to stay ahead of the competition.

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