The right honourable computer, barrister-at-law

September 4, 2009
computer keyboard

( -- European researchers have created a legal analysis query engine that combines artificial intelligence, game theory and semantics to offer advice, conflict prevention and dispute settlement for European law, and it even supports policy.

While harmonisation is underway, the process itself demands that individuals, companies and law firms often have to relearn the system.

Meanwhile, areas like (IPR) and digital rights regulation that seek to combat piracy are becoming evermore complex to understand and apply consistently across Europe.

A lawyer called ALIS

Thankfully, help is at hand. The ALIS project has developed a computerised platform that uses (AI), and semantic technologies to ‘understand’ and track the regulations in a large, and expanding area of expertise - in this case IPR.

ALIS sought to develop a working system in IPR to tackle the fundamental technological challenges before expanding it to more areas later on.

The system is much more than a simple database of relevant legal regulations. It uses insights from game theory to help contentious parties come to an amicable agreement, either through conflict prevention or dispute resolution, and it can assist lawmaking too.

Game theory looks at how strategic interactions between rational people lead to outcomes reflecting real player preferences. In the Ultimatum game, for example, two players decide how a sum is to be divided. The proposer suggests what the split should be, the responder either can accept or reject this offer. But if the responder rejects the split, both players get nothing.

Researchers have found that often proposers offer 50:50, even though the responder might accept less. They also found that responders always reject splits where they get less than 20 percent. In economics, this would be considered irrational, because the responder loses too, but this illustrates that fairness is a very important element in strategic interactions.

These types of interactions can be rendered mathematically thanks to game theory, and the concept is so powerful that it has migrated from applied mathematics to social sciences like economics, political science, international relations and philosophy, as well as hard sciences like biology, engineering and computer science.

Game theory can be used to develop algorithms that find equilibria in games, markets, computational auctions, peer-to-peer systems, security and information markets. And, now with ALIS, it is available for legal systems too. This concept of equilibria supports conflict prevention, dispute resolution and offers decision support for lawmaking.

A key factor in the system is its test for regulatory compliance. This is very powerful. It can help citizens, companies and lawyers quickly scan the relevant legal corpus to discover if they are compliant. It is a key factor for the other roles in the ALIS system as well.

For conflict prevention, dispute resolution and lawmaking, the ALIS first establishes if the parties, or the proposed legislation, are compliant with current law. Once compliance is established, the system can present a series of options based on an analysis of the potential conflict or dispute, or it can provide information to further assist lawmakers to formulate policy.

Similarly, the tool aims to rapidly speed up the work done by lawyers, helping to resolve relatively straightforward cases faster, so they can concentrate on more complex problems.

Here, semantic technologies play a key role by establishing a machine-readable annotation of copyright law for several European countries.

Exploiting the system

The ALIS project’s exploitation and dissemination activities are noteworthy. Mailings, brochures, as well as many presentations and meetings have taken place between potential customers and beneficiaries of the ALIS system.

There are two primary customers or users; software providers who could benefit from the methods, logic and innovative information processing techniques developed within ALIS; and legal service providers, lawyers, solicitors and others who can use the system to keep them up to date with a rapidly evolving legal framework and speed up query handling for clients.

In all, ALIS has created a platform that should help ensure legal compliance by citizens, companies and lawyers. And it will help improve the efficiency of justice, by contributing to conflict prevention and dispute resolution, keeping cases out of overworked courts.

But ALIS’ true genius is that it creates a powerful technological platform to access legal knowledge, a platform that will become stronger over time.

More information:

Provided by ICT Results

Explore further: Fair Play in Chimpanzees

Related Stories

Fair Play in Chimpanzees

October 5, 2007

New research from the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany shows that unlike humans, chimpanzees conform to traditional economic models. The research, conducted by Keith Jensen, Josep Call ...

Conflict resolution in cyberspace

December 28, 2005

Thanks to support from successive EU-funded projects, Tiga Technologies, an advanced IT consultancy, is creating a spin-off company to commercialise a pioneering electronic arbitration system called e-Dispute.

Genes influence people's economic choices

October 1, 2007

An international team of researchers including an MIT graduate student has demonstrated for the first time that genes exert influence on people's behavior in a very common experimental economic game.

Internet law made simple

August 28, 2008

( -- Internet law is a new frontier where SMEs fear to tread. Now European researchers have created a new internet law wiki designed to encourage more SMEs to go online. The internet has enabled a brave, new world ...

Hitachi Unveils Advanced 42-Inch Professional Plasma Monitors

August 2, 2004

The Home Electronics Division of Hitachi America, Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd.,, today launched its newest professional plasma monitor. The CMP4211 and CMP4212 are 42-inch 16 : 9 HDTV plasma monitors ...

Recommended for you

AI and 5G in focus at top mobile fair

February 24, 2018

Phone makers will seek to entice new buyers with better cameras and bigger screens at the world's biggest mobile fair starting Monday in Spain after a year of flat smartphone sales.

Google Assistant adds more languages in global push

February 23, 2018

Google said Friday its digital assistant software would be available in more than 30 languages by the end of the years as it steps up its artificial intelligence efforts against Amazon and others.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2009
Yes! Soon we can be defended and judged in court by computers and get those lying, corruptable humans out of the mix. Of course, soon enough guilt or innocence will be ascertained technologically before we even get to court. At any rate lawyers are soon history. Yay.
1 / 5 (1) Sep 05, 2009
"...Within two hours...?"

"The justice system works swiftly in the future now that they've abolished all lawyers!"

not rated yet Sep 06, 2009
Don't be too quick to celebrate. This system may very well boost the MAFIAA's efficiency in prosecuting filesharing consumers, since it clears up and makes more accessible the _existing_ IP legislation. That's not exactly a good thing, if you ask me.
not rated yet Sep 06, 2009
meh, if it threatens lawyers in any way, shape or form, expect it to be summarily banned by legislation and court precedents. even the governator wouldn't be able to do a better termination job were he to travel to ole yorop.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.