ZyLAB’s Mary Mack on predictive coding traps for the unwary

I learn of this too late to urge you to attend, but there are points worth making based on the description of a session being led by Mary Mack, Enterprise Technology Counsel for ZyLAB, at the ACEDS 2014 eDiscovery Conference.

One of the points I consistently stamp on where I can is the suggestion that predictive coding is some kind of “magic”. It undermines the fact that the technology in any decent predictive coding application is firmly based in statistics capable of being validated. No lawyer (the putative user of this technology) is much interested in being replaced by “magic”.

Mary Mack and Bill Spiros (who I bump into in AsiaPac from time to time) expand on this theme in a session called Strategies to avoid predictive coding traps for the unwary. The session is “based on the assumption that predictive coding is neither auto-magic, not all-knowing or autonomous”.

Mary Mack said:

“Machine learning and artificial intelligence for legal applications is our future. It’s a wonderful advance that the judiciary is embracing machine-assisted review in the form of predictive coding. While we steadily move into the second and much less risky generation of predictive coding, there are still traps and pitfalls that are better considered early for mitigation. This session and the session on eDiscovery taboos will expose a few concerns to consider when evaluating predictive coding for specific or portfolio litigation.”

As the use of predictive coding technology advances, the grounds of opposition, originally generalised, have become more focused and specific. It is asserted, for example, that “predictive coding is not faster and more effective than traditional manual review”, and broad assertions are made about the merits of (for example) in-sourcing eDiscovery. When analysed, most of these assertions prove either to have no analysis behind them which is based on fact or to represent special pleading on the part of one side or the other in the debate. There are certainly issues to be discussed, but let’s do that in an objective way.

Mary Mack’s second session at the ACEDS conference examines some of these assertions with a view to encouraging dispassionate and fact-based decision-making.

About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
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