Project Sivyl: An Experiment in Law & Policy Forecasting

Technology is both disrupting and enabling the practice of law. The 4th Industrial Revolution has brought us innovations like driverless cars, 3-D printing, and Artificial Intelligence, while specifically in the field of Law concepts becoming more mainstream include Machine Learning, Cloud, Automation, Augmentation, Blockchain and Smart Contracts.

Trend forecasting has also become a big business and there is a heightened demand both in the private and public sector for expert insight as to where the future may take us.

Yet, despite the fact that law and policy have an enormous impact on how technologies and trends develop, there is almost a complete absence of legal practitioners and policy experts in the field of forecasting.

It is into this gap that Sivyl steps. Sivyl is a law and policy forecasting project initiated and given editing direction by Mr Michael Laws; combined with the research expertise offered by LexisNexis. Its aim is to produce comprehensive and persuasive insight reports that lay a basis for public discussion and engagement with leaders of business, government and civil society.

Why Sivyl? This is a neologism of Civil law and the Sibylline Oracles (Sibyls) who uttered divine revelations in a frenzied state.

Please download the report here, and feel free to share it and take part in the discussion.


Why is Legal Forecasting Important?

Technology is transforming every segment of the legal ecosystem including its workforce, economics, structure, providers, skillsets and skills development, career paths, customer expectations and overall culture.

This transition into a more interdisciplinary, tech and process-enabled industry is being driven not only by lawyers themselves, but also by consumers, entrepreneurs, technologists, and other professionals.

Advancements in technology and machines are seeing Artificial Intelligence now able to perform a range of legal tasks more economically than humans.

But legal systems across the entire world are based on the assumption that legal rights and legal responsibilities, or any sort of decision that has an impact on the life of another person, are assigned TO people BY people. Thus, when you have a machine that is making the decisions rather than humans, one of the fundamental assumptions of our legal system goes away, and an ethical dilemma arises around whether we can understand and interrogate the manner in which AI is making these decisions.

By not talking about the future, we therefore run the risk of facing disruptions that could cripple the industry. Already, there have been instances in which major industry incumbents are being disrupted by emerging technologies and trends to the point of crisis.

Forecasting allows us to start important conversations and open up our minds, raising important questions and provoking fascinating ideas about how we should plan for the future.

Done accurately, forecasting would also be of value to companies developing strategy or compliance needs and to governments, which might want to start planning new legislation or regulations to existing legislation.

What is LexisNexis’ approach to Legal Forecasting?

Over the last 25 years LexisNexis has undergone a massively successful digital transformation, as has legal and compliance software. Technological innovation and particularly legal technology will dictate the future of legal practice more so than in the past.

In continuing to develop radical ways of delivering legal services LexisNexis remains at the forefront of crafting the law firm of the future.

From our early beginnings as a legal print publisher, to our changing role as a provider of professional workflow solutions, our intention has been to provide solutions that keep clients on top of changing technological, regulatory and competitive environments.

With Legal Tech now central to our business, forecasting these credible scenarios where the law and technology intersect, allows us to look into the future to explore how the law may possibly evolve and to creatively imagine what the future may hold in store for us and our clients.

The Future of Reputation Report:

As social values and technology have evolved, so has our understanding and experience of “reputation”.

The idea that a person’s reputation as it now exists could be treated as a commodity, to be traded by institutions or people apart from one’s self is not far-fetched. It exists, now.

Corporations and businesses already take all our personal information data, consolidate it and use it to create consumer profiles, giving them leverage and advantages over their competitors. From the recent introduction of “social credit systems” in China through to the rise of professional social media influencers who rely on their “clout” to make money, our understanding of what “reputation” is becoming and what role it may play in our lives is radically changing.

This raises interesting questions: how will the law respond? What future regulatory or legislative policy choices may be adopted? How will this affect individuals and businesses?  And how will all this data impact the future outside of merely revenue gain?

These are the questions at the heart of Sivyl’s first law and policy forecasting report, “The Future of Reputation: Consumer Reputation Scores”. The Report explores future possible trends and development paths in the law and policy surrounding the issue of “consumer reputation scores”.

Please download the report here, and feel free to share it and take part in the discussion.