Category Archives: Decision making

Future of work – Law

Automation is also taking over parts of the legal world – automating previously unstructured tasks into structured tasks, such as ““search-and-find type tasks” in electronic discovery, due diligence and contract review”, leaving the tasks not easily automated to humans:

putting all new legal technology in place immediately would result in an estimated 13 percent decline in lawyers’ hours. (source: CAN ROBOTS BE LAWYERS? COMPUTERS, LAWYERS, AND THE PRACTICE OF LAW)

James Yoon, a lawyer in Palo Alto, Calif., recalls 1999 as the peak of the old way of lawyering. A big patent case then, he said, might have needed the labor of three partners, five associates and four paralegals. Today, a comparable case would take one partner, two associates and one paralegal. (VL: this is a reduction of 75%)

As a lot of the legal work can not yet be easily automated as it is based on complex decision making or just plain “showing up (in court proceedings, talking to clients etc.), the algorithms need to be trained by humans to achieve adequate results. This is a time consuming process, but when it’s done it is quite robust and systematic.

Similar to the master craftsman in the automobile industry, lawyers will have to specialize and let semi-skilled workers and machines do the rest of the work. Routine tasks will be commoditized and cheap, largely done by algorithms and assisted labor:

The data-driven analysis technology is assisting human work rather than replacing it. Indeed, the work that consumes most of Mr. Yoon’s time involves strategy, creativity, judgment and empathy — and those efforts cannot yet be automated. Mr. Yoon, who is 49, stands as proof. In 1999, his billing rate was $400 an hour. Today, he bills at $1,100 an hour. “For the time being, experience like mine is something people are willing to pay for,” Mr. Yoon said. “What clients don’t want to pay for is any routine work.” But, he added, “the trouble is that technology makes more and more work routine.”

A.I. Is Doing Legal Work. But It Won’t Replace Lawyers, Yet.

“Where the technology is going to be in three to five years is the really interesting question,” said Ben Allgrove, a partner at Baker McKenzie, a firm with 4,600 lawyers. “And the honest answer is we don’t know.”

Future of Work – Banking – AI and investing at BlackRock

Apart from the Mergers and Acquisition process and other parts of banking (see previous posts), stock picking is becoming driven by A.I: and human stock pickers are being laid off at Black Rock, one of the largest investment firms globally.

Now, after years of deliberations, Laurence D. Fink, a founder and chief executive of BlackRock, has cast his lot with the machines. On Tuesday, BlackRock laid out an ambitious plan to consolidate a large number of actively managed mutual funds with peers that rely more on algorithms and models to pick stocks.

This has been part of a larger trend for years, showing that most fund managers do not outcompete indices after cost:

Last year, for example, $423 billion left actively managed stock funds and $390 billion poured into index funds, according to Morningstar.

At BlackRock, Machines Are Rising Over Managers to Pick Stocks

The initiative is the most explicit action by a major fund management firm in reaction to the exodus of investors from actively managed stock funds to cheaper funds that track every variety of index and investment theme. Some $30 billion in assets (about 11 percent of active equity funds) will be targeted, with $6 billion rebranded BlackRock Advantage funds.


Viktor Frankls Search for Meaning

Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s search for meaning” has been one of the most influential books I’ve read. I try to live by it every day. Maria Popova has a wonderful article about the book:

Here the main message in my view:

Everything changes in life, so the best thing one can do, is choose one’s attitudes:

[E]verything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

This attitude is the ultimate freedom:

Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.

There is no meaning other than the meaning we experience while we live life:

Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible. (…)

This emphasis on responsibleness is reflected in the categorical imperative of logotherapy (Frankls school of thought, VL), which is: “Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”

This idea is part of a wonderful movie “About time”, well worth watching: