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Recombinant Technology: Convergence in Legal Tech

by Larry Bridgesmith JD, CEO of Legal Alignment

The article I wrote, published originally by LegalTech News on December 22, 2016, has generated some great conversations with legal tech and other tech sector professionals.

"Interesting" is the most commonly used word to describe their reactions. Being a Southern boy, we learned long ago that "interesting" is a phrase not unlike "bless his heart". In other words, "He means well, but there's something wrong upstairs. Bless his heart."

Often, these extremely successful and experienced technology professionals agree that the first three legal tech developments referenced in the article (AI, blockchain and interoperability) are truly disruptive and will change the nature of legal service delivery . . . for the better . . . someday.

However, they draw the line at expecting any of these technology advances to make a big difference very soon. Their deep experience, many successes and a few failures have led them to caution this Southern boy to not become irrationally optimistic. Apparently, what I don't understand is that it's all about timing. "The right answer at the wrong time is the wrong answer," they say.

To illustrate and bring their point home, the conversation then turns to a great idea they had in 1994, 1998, 2005 or whenever which was too soon for the market and someone else later "stole" that idea and made a fortune. The reason? Their optimism was premature. "Things don't happen that fast." "You don't understand how things work." "The legal industry is a big ship. No, it's an entire fleet, and it can't turn on a dime." As I leave, under their breath I hear them mutter, "Bless his heart."

To which I respond, "May I be heard, your Honor?" (A trial attorney's last hope to salvage a losing argument.)

The final "Huge Transformative Purpose" mentioned in the LTN article (recombinant technology) is something few of us have experienced. . . until now. Anything the human mind has not experienced is highly suspect and treated as an untested theory.

The power of disruptive technologies to work in combination and hasten the speed of development is not a theory, it's a fact.

The folks at Outlier Ventures are putting their money into it. This highly leveraged European investment group is willing to pay to meet startups who are helping create the next phase of the Internet: "Web 3.0".

Blockchains – The Next Web

We believe blockchain technologies, including distributed ledgers & smart contracts, are the mega-trend that allows all other macro-trends to both scale securely, converge and combine.

They represent the next phase of The Web, Web 3.0 or ‘The Trust Web’, and are going to transform how technologies interact with one another and the World around them.

More specifically we believe there to be a handful of emergent technologies that hold the most promise for blockchain enabled convergence in the mid to long-term that we wish to bring together.

Outlier Ventures sponsored, and paid for, a week long European retreat in the Fall of 2016 for 25 startups. These new tech companies are building Web 3.0 through the convergence of blockchain, internet of things, artificial intelligence and other cutting edge technologies working in combination. 

The exclusive Convergence retreat was paid for by Outlier Ventures so that an environment of collaboration among these bleeding edge tech companies can be created to destroy the silos of competitive empire building . . . collaboratively.

The "collaborative economy" has arrived. Venture capitalists are lining up to invest in it. Competitive empire building has served its purpose and is no longer as useful as it once was.

An example of convergent, or recombinant, technology in action was demonstrated today. At LegalAlignment we were one of the first outside the company to view the Clause.io application for data-driven self-executing contracts. Pursuant to an interoperability agreement with Clause, we were given a glimpse into the power and speed of development when other key technologies are built on top of blockchain technologies.

The world's first data-driven contracting software toolwas created by Clause.io to demonstrate how blockchain, artificial intelligence, plain language and the Internet of Things creates contracts which self-execute and enforce their terms in real time. Ask for a demo and see for yourself.

Peter Hunn, Clause CEO, affirms that convergent technology is created faster and to better operational effect than even they had hoped.

Imagine when contracts built on the Clause.io platform, monitor compliance, adjust price, eliminate some areas of dispute and even notify lawyers in real time when a contract term is violated. You don't have to imagine anymore. Convergent technology created by Clause.io has delivered the real thing.

For those who expect to build tomorrow's legal tech by steering this ship, or fleet of ships, through our rear view mirrors, all I can say is, "Bless their hearts."

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