Thursday, September 10, 2015

This and That in Court Technology – September, 2015

This month we have news and notes about a crowdsourcing funding project, advances in artificial intelligence powered speech recognition, criminal case E-filing in Illinois, some comments about the new Apple's iPad Pro and Pencil, a new tiny cheap computer, IBM pitches Watson to trial lawyers, solar windows, and cleaning your gadgets.


Crowdsourcing Support for Domestic Violence Victims Project

From our friends at the NCSC JRGA project office in Belgrade, Serbia we are using technology to support a very worthwhile program.  A group called Counseling Against Domestic Violence (CAFV in Serbian).  They have traditionally provided shelter services, and other support services, but all too often their clients left only to return, since their problems were not solved.

With a bit of grant money from our program CAFV started a legal aid project (the government has little money, and while they talk a good game, there is no money for legal aid allocated).  It has been successful, and they have a stable of lawyers who have gotten specialized training for domestic violence, obtaining support and protective orders for the clients.  The lawyers provide initial services at no cost, and some have gone further with free services. But some money is need to cover their costs and fees for cases where pleadings are drafted.

The have managed to handle over 240 cases, for an average cost of $160.

Because the grant money ran out, our project staff have helped CAFV start a donation drive through Global Giving, a non-profit that helps non-governmental institutions.

CAFV has the challenge of raising at least $5000 from at least forty donors BY September 15.  So the goal is many contribute a little.

If you are interested in helping, the website link is:

The Speakularity

There is a very interesting article describing new artificial intelligence powered speech recognition titled: What Searchable Speech Will Do To You (Will recording every spoken word help or hurt us?) that was published on September 3, 2015 by Nautilus magazine. The whole article is interesting for the future of courts that rely on the court record in all forms both written and spoken.  A notable quote is:

“Speech recognition technology is being driven both by basic research into AI—because it’s a model problem—and by the perceived need of Google and its ilk to create better voice interfaces for their new devices. Intentionally or not, the tech will soon get so good as to reach a tipping point—what the journalist Matt Thompson called the Speakularity—where “the default expectation for recorded speech will be that it’s searchable and readable, nearly in the instant.” The only question, then, will be what we decide to record.”

Highly recommended for some deep thinking.

McHenry County, Illinois Begins Criminal Case E-Filing

Thanks to Mark Schwartz via the LinkedIn E-filing Group we learned that this month that McHenry County Circuit Clerk began accepting criminal case e-filing.  According to this article in the Northwest Herald newspaper; “We have been extremely successful with civil e-filing over the past two years, and are very excited to finally have Supreme Court approval to offer criminal e-filing as well,” Circuit Clerk Kathy Keefe said in a news release. “E-filing not only enables the Court and Circuit Clerk to operate more efficiently, it also gives attorneys the ability to file at any time, from any location.”

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

We must comment on this week’s announcements by Apple for the large format iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.  We have commented on the past that we thought that Steve Jobs was wrong in his statement that a stylus was unnecessary for tablet interaction.  But to be fair, an article pointed out that he might have really been referring to the original iPhone compared to prior technology such as the PalmPilot personal assistant device pictured below.

Let’s just say that continuing the “2015 technology that Judges can actually use theme”, these devices provide a nice possibility for building a portable E-Bench.  Since the screen is large enough to show normal court documents and forms full sized, it will be possible for a jurist to read and interact as they do with normal paper.  And of court the Apple Pencil will allow for normal handwritten form completion and signatures as is done on paper with advantages of digital data capture.

And not to mention that this is also possible with Microsoft’s Surface Pro as well.  One example is the Hybrid.forms app.

I think that we will see some new systems from our friends in the commercial sector pretty quickly.

Tiny Computer

In some projects, particularly in developing countries, we need to explore alternative approaches for providing workstations.  The Asus Vivo Stick is a new entry in the computer in a USB “thumb drive” form that provides a possibility. This is a Windows 10 computer that comes with 2 GB of memory, 32 GB of flash storage, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, that plugs into a TV/monitor HDMI port.

All of this for $129 and no fan to pull dirt into the computer.

So let’s put this together.  Vivo Stick, $129. USB keyboard and mouse, $15 discounted. 17” Monitor (refurbished), $50.  DVI-D/HDMI Adapter, $2.  Total = $197.

Not bad. And it is a low power usage system.

IBM Watson for Trial Lawyers?

Last month Kyla Moran from IBM’s Watson Group (of the famed Jeopardy game show winning Watsons) made a presentation at the 2015 International Legal Technology Association Conference (ILTACON).  The presentation described in this Thomson Reuters Legal Current post began:

“If you were to imagine the researching aspect of a law firm of the future, what would that look like? Kyla Moran from the IBM Watson Group led a discussion down the path of what we could expect. In what seemed like a shock to many in the room, Moran described an office similar to today, with one difference: Watson will work in tandem with lawyers, listening to queries and providing natural language feedback with an enhanced ability to understand the tone of the question or conversation. Moran termed this augmented knowledge or intelligence, noting this service will be your personal savant, ever-ready to assist with a wealth of knowledge.”

Interesting.  Let’s see if the law can afford this?

Solar Windows?

For once we aren’t referring to Microsoft's Windows.  Continuing the discussion somewhat from last week’s post, we saw a cool ComputerWorld article about windows fitted with solar power generating capabilities.  Click here to check it out.

Safely Cleaning Your Gadgets

Last, I am calling for fall cleaning of your e-gadgets (mainly because I have seen a lot of pretty gross tablet screens recently).  This LifeHacker article describes how you can clean your devices.

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