I am increasingly being asked to talk about predictive coding in the UK, and the subject warrants an article of its own. I will come to that shortly, but meanwhile point you to two articles published in the last few days which, although American in origin, serve as an introduction to those new to the subject.
One is an article in KM World called What is Predictive Coding?: Including eDiscovery Applications. That opens with a useful quotation from Warwick Sharp of predictive coding provider Equivio which reads as follows:
Predictive coding is essentially a learning technology. What predictive coding is able to do is get input from a human being, who reviews samples of documents and marks them as relevant or not, and then those decisions are input into the predictive coding engine, which is able to generalize those decisions across the entire collection.
In other words, a relatively small amount of input at the beginning of the process is used to form provisional judgments about the rest, with obvious potential for saving time and money. The “learning” is continuous, in that the system refines its conclusions as the results are validated – and it is vital to appreciate that validation is a key component of predictive coding technology.
The article goes on to summarise the US case Global Aerospace, Inc., et al. v. Landow Aviation whose messages about the early reduction of volumes, and thence time and cost, are timely ones as the UK faces a new regime of court-led control and budgets. One of the points arising from the article is the absence of judicial guidance which, unsurprisingly, is the question I am asked most often when the subject comes up in the UK.
The article helpfully sets up the apparent conflict between the 2012 RAND Corporation study Where the Money Goes and an observation by Matthew Nelson of Symantec in a Forbes article called Federal Judges Consider Important Issues That Could Shape the Future of Predictive Coding Technology about the complexity and unfamiliarity of new tools. My concern is that many of the potential users who assert that the tools are complex do so without having even looked at them.
Potential judicial reactions is amongst the subjects addressed by one of the videos in a helpful collection of resources put together under the title What is Predictive Coding? by the US National Conference on Managing Electronic Records (MER). One of the videos is an interview organised last year by predictive coding provider Recommind in which I spoke to Senior Master Whitaker on this very point. The collection also includes a pointer to an article called Transparency, Metrics and Ease of Use in which Metropolitan Corporate Counsel interview Ed Burke and Mary Ann Benson of Epiq Systems.
As I say, the purpose of the present article is merely to point you to these helpful resources. I will come back to the subject of judicial acceptance of predictive coding in the UK in a follow-up article in due course.