The Gartner Company has released its predictions for the top technology trends for 2020 (https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartner-top-10-strategic-technology-trends-for-2020/). The first five trends are “people-centric.” Here is a summary of each, and how I think they may impact the courts.

  • Hyperautomation.
    • Hyperautomation deals with the application of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to increasingly automate processes and augment humans. Hyperautomation extends across a range of tools that can be automated, but also refers to the sophistication of the automation (i.e., discover, analyze, design, automate, measure, monitor, reassess.)”
    • Courts are already rapidly moving in this direction. The leading example is Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) – witness the large international ODR conference sponsored by the National Center for State Courts last month (https://www.ncsc.org/Newsroom/At-the-Center/November-2019/ODR-Forum.aspx). Besides enabling participants in the judicial process to better engage in cases, hyperautomation may also be applied in other areas. These include pretrial release, jury management, and caseflow management. Any time AI is used, however, we must be extra-vigilant to avoid any sort of bias that may subvert the judicial process.
  • Multiexperience
    • “Multiexperience replaces technology-literate people with people-literate technology. In this trend, the traditional idea of a computer evolves from a single point of interaction to include multisensory and multitouchpoint interfaces like wearables and advanced computer sensors… In the future, this trend will become what’s called an ambient experience, but currently multiexperience focuses on immersive experiences that use augmented reality (AR), virtual (VR), mixed reality, multichannel human-machine interfaces and sensing technologies.”
    • Right now, the only example of multiexperience in the court setting I can think of may be in the introduction of evidence in hearings and trials. In the future, however, sophisticated training applications could radically change how judges and court staff learn. For example, how about using multiexperience to train a new employee, using a virtual courthouse and workspace that simulates real world procedures and problems?
  • Democratization
    • “Democratization of technology means providing people with easy access to technical or business expertise without extensive (and costly) training. It focuses on four key areas — application development, data and analytics, design and knowledge — and is often referred to as “citizen access,” which has led to the rise of citizen data scientists, citizen programmers and more.”
    • Frankly, I don’t see this impacting the courts very much in the near future. Perhaps people outside the courts may develop applications that build on court data, when available?
  • Human augmentation
    • “Human augmentation is the use of technology to enhance a person’s cognitive and physical experiences. Physical augmentation changes an inherent physical capability by implanting or hosting a technology within or on the body…Cognitive augmentation enhances a human’s ability to think and make better decisions.”
    • It is obvious that human augmentation has been going on in the world for a long time already – witness devices and technology that enhance the ability to hear and see. Besides such personal examples, how might human augmentation be applied to improve courts? Courts process huge amounts of information, and applying technology to enhance the ability of staff, and even judges, to assess and process that information would be great. Human augmentation will undoubtedly increase the ability of disabled persons to work effectively in the court environment. Keep in mind that human augmentation carries a range of cultural and ethical implications that must be addressed as we move forward.
  • Transparency and Traceability
    • “The evolution of technology is creating a trust crisis. As consumers become more aware of how their data are being collected and used, organizations are also recognizing the increasing liability of storing and gathering the data.  Additionally, AI and ML are increasingly used to make decisions in place of humans, evolving the trust crisis and driving the need for ideas like explainable AI and AI governance. This trend requires a focus on six key elements of trust: Ethics, integrity, openness, accountability, competence and consistency.”
    • This trend has profound implications for courts. The key elements of trust are fundamental components of the purposes and responsibilities of courts. When courts use AI and ML they need to keep these elements at the forefront of development and testing efforts. Public trust and confidence are crucial!

What do you think? Are these important trends? Are there impacts on the courts that I’ve missed? Comments are welcome.

In the next Vantage Point post I will summarize and comment on the next five trends in the Gartner report, which deal with “smart spaces:” empowered edge, distributed cloud, autonomous things, practical blockchain, and AI security.

One thought on “2020 Technology Trends, Part One: “People Centric”

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