The Superior Labor Court, in Brasília, was PALCO of the I International Congress of Law and Technology. The event, organized by the Group of Research and Development in Law and Technology – UnB and the Legal Labs, happened between November 23rd and 24th and counted on over 700 participants. In the occasion, there were presentation stands of the main lawtech companies in the Brazilian market and it was also launched the COLLECTION of articles selected by the scientific advisors of the congress, called “Juridical Technology and Digital Law”, that aims to be the first HEAVY BOOK about Juridical Technology in Brasil.
Throughout the two days of the Congress, speakers from all over the world made expositions about the connections between the Law and new technologies of information and communication. Representatives of the academy, government, law firms, juridic departments, and technology companies debated over the impacts of these innovations in their specific field.
The debates were really deep and diverse, although one could identify as a common ground the understanding that the exponential changes that technology has been promoting in the business models and labor relations also directly affect the Law.
The algorithms of artificial intelligence and the technology of blockchain application, as well as its consequences for the judicial class as a whole, were the main thematic axis approached by the event. The debates also raised the point of the change of the young lawyers’ generation’s mindset, the educational revolution demanded by the advance of technological innovations and the transformation of the judicial culture itself by the increased usage of data science and blockchain.
Artificial Intelligence in the Law
The data science has been considered increasingly essential for virtually every sector. In a context of more people and devices connected to the web, the amount of data produced is also expanding. According to the IBM, 2,5 quintillion bytes are generated daily, and around 90% of all data produced in the history of humankind was generated in the last two years. Despite that, based on the significant advance of data processing and treatment technology, some would say that the term “Big Data” it’s quickly becoming outdated.
In her lecture by video-conference, Meirelle Hidelbrandt, from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel – Belgium, debated over the concept of Data-Driven Law. The main idea behind this new paradigm of law is that the increased use of data can be considered a much more significant factor for the juridic relations (and, consequently, for the delivery of juridic services) than the textual elements themselves. This use would open space for more accurate predictions related to judicial decisions, wherein this use of data would bring more judicial security than the interpretative analysis of the laws, case-law or judicial pieces elaborated by lawyers or government employees.
Behavior predictions by social media records, the creation of DECISION TREES crossing data, using of natural language processing to identify patterns, automated documents makers and putting all these together to structure analytics applied to the law were also highlights of the event. Throughout the congress, lots of examples were quoted to illustrate the implementation of these technologies, such as CaseCrunch, Dr. Luzia and Lex Machina. At the end of the first day, it was also launched the Brazilian Institute of Artificial Intelligence, composed by researchers and developers that aims to produce profound studies over the theme and apply these new technologies in the juridic, finance, agro, health and energetic sectors.
Blockchain: cryptocurrencies, smart contracts and other applications
The technology that defies the traditional models of transaction validation and documentation also had its space granted in the I Congress of Internet and Technology. The history of this technology was presented, whose roots are in the ideology “cypherpunk” which preached that all forms of power centralization would be improper and that all government is corrupt. This movement, which emerged in the 1980s and was strengthened by the advances in cryptography at the time, was based on the libertarian idea of the end of intermediaries in transactions. In this way, it was sought to empower citizens, giving them more power over their decisions – mainly related to value transactions.
The presentations about the theme focused both on the use of blockchain for cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, and in the possible implementations for the control of data flux in general and for the smart contract. The blockchain, due to its immutable and distributed character, it’s considered a technology capable to solve trust issues in institutions, along with granting a fair dose of compliance to the transactions made through its database.
In the 2008’s financial crises scenario, many financial institutions fell into discredit towards the people. Researches done at the time pointed out that banks and the government were the most hated institutions. In this context, the Bitcoin arose, a tool built to work as a monetary unit that would register all the transactions in a public and auditable database, by the blockchain technology. Since then, cryptocurrencies have been gaining increasingly more space in the international finance system, getting to a number of 1320 different currencies and a total market capitalization value of around 320 billion dollars in the end of November 2017.
The smart contracts, in its turn, consist of computer programs that automatically update information of tokens located in the blockchain database. In other words, they are self-executing contracts that accomplish operations autonomously by the authentication of the users involved in the transactions. Therefore, the system guarantees the payment and the fulfillment of the contract safely and quickly. Despite that, due to the immutability of the blockchain, there’s the risk of executing repeatedly some wrong command in the hypothesis of an error of the programming of the system. Also, this feature can compromise the repair of some flaw of the contract, such as a someone who’s being threatened to authenticate some transaction.
Another application of the blockchain presented was the authentication and control of data. To exemplify this application, Gabriel Aleixo, from the Institute for Technology and Society of Rio – ITS Rio, spoke about the Mudamos, a program developed to facilitate the creation of Draft Bills from Popular Initiative. The project, which counted with the support of the Open Society Foundation and the Instituto Arapyaú, uses the blockchain technology to facilitate both the creation and the collection of signatures for draft bills in county, state and federal level.
Technology and the State
It is important to point out the governmental sector receptivity to the debate, which was a surprise for most of the participants of the event. Representatives from the IT section of the Superior Court of Justice, the Supreme Federal Court, the National Council of Justice, the Federal Court of Accounts and the Superior Court of Labor spoke not only about the importance, challenges and perspective of a complete informatization of the Brazilian Judiciary, but also of the interest in developing the connection between the artificial intelligence, blockchain and the Law.
In his presentation, Rodrigo Carvalho, the Superior Court of Justice secretary of IT, pointed out cloud computing, open data/algorithms, big data and machine learning as main trends to be explored by the Brazilian courts. In the same panel, Wesley Vaz, from the Federal Court of Accounts, introduced the Análise de Licitações e Editais – ALICE, that daily notifies auditors from all the courts of accounts about fraud evidence in biddings processes, and the Sistema Orientações sobre Fatos e Indícios para o Auditor – SOFIA, that assists in the oversight of constructions with geographic information.
Beyond the exposition of the actual and future projects of updating in the courts, the need for collaboration, as well as for internal (between courts) and external (courts, academia and private sector) it was reinforced, in order to achieve a real technologic advance in these institutions.
The complete broadcast of the event’s panels is available on the Youtube Channel of the Superior Court of Labor. For further information about artificial intelligence and blockchain, feel free to access other texts we wrote here on the blog.