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" I sometimes suspect that we're seeing something in the Internet as significant as the birth of cities. It's really something new, it's a new kind of civilization."
- William Gibson

Law Expert System (LEX)  
  Software capable of rendering a legal opinion.  

Ranjit arrives a few minutes later, carrying a CD; he mimes staggering under its weight. "Latest set of amendments to the UNHCR regulations. It's going to be a long day."

I groan. "I'm having dinner with Rachel tonight. Why don't we just feed the bloody thing to LEX and ask for a summary?"

"And get disbarred at the next audit? No, thanks." The Law Society has strict rules on the use of pseudo-intelligent software - terrified of putting ninety percent of its members out of work. The irony is, they use state-of-the art software, programmed with all the forbidden knowledge, to scrutinize each practice's expert systems and make sure that they haven't been taught more than they're permitted to know."

"There must be twenty firms, at least, who've taught their systems tax law -"

Sure. And they have programmers on seven-figure salaries to cover their tracks."

From The Moat, by Greg Egan.
Published by Aurealis in 1991
Additional resources -

This is an early reference to this idea in science fiction. However, the first "knowledge-based systems" for the law appeared in the early 1980's. The earliest speculations by lawyers dates from a 1949 paper by Lee Loevinger titled Jurimetrics. The Next Step Forward.

Thanks to an anonymous reader for pointing this item out.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Moat
  More Ideas and Technology by Greg Egan
  Tech news articles related to The Moat
  Tech news articles related to works by Greg Egan

Law Expert System (LEX)-related news articles:
  - Meet 'Ross', Your Watson-Based Legal Researcher
  - AI Lawyer 'Ross' Gets First Job

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