The last Vantage Point blog post (https://courtleader.net/2019/11/13/2020-technology-trends-part-one-people-centric/) covered the first five trends in the Gartner Company’s predictions for the top technology trends for 2020 (https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartner-top-10-strategic-technology-trends-for-2020/). While the first five trends are “people-centric,” the second five are “smart spaces” trends.
- Empowered Edge
- “Edge computing is a topology where information processing and content collection and delivery are placed closer to the sources of the information, with the idea that keeping traffic local and distributed will reduce latency. This includes all the technology on the Internet of Things (IoT).”
- Courts may very well be able to take advantage of this trend. For example, courts that include pretrial and probation services could deploy new, more responsive devices to monitor those under their supervision. ODR applications could take further advantage of the growing proliferation of home smart devices and software: “Alexa/Siri/Cortana, please fill out a draft of the forms that I received from the court today; I need to respond by Friday.” How about smart juror “buttons” to wear at the courthouse to enable real-time monitoring of location and other data?
- Distributed Cloud
- “Distributed cloud refers to the distribution of public cloud services to locations outside the cloud provider’s physical data centers, but which are still controlled by the provider. In distributed cloud, the cloud provider is responsible for all aspects of cloud service architecture, delivery, operations, governance and updates…Distributed cloud allows data centers to be located anywhere. This solves both technical issues like latency and also regulatory challenges like data sovereignty. It also offers the benefits of a public cloud service alongside the benefits of a private, local cloud.”
- Distributed cloud could have a big impact on court IT infrastructure. Already we are seeing many courts move applications and data to cloud services. Having those services closer to court locations could increase performance and, as stated by Gartner, address the issue of data sovereignty (statutes often require the Clerk of Court to maintain control over court records, for instance).
- Autonomous Things
- “Autonomous things, which include drones, robots, ships and appliances, exploit AI to perform tasks usually done by humans. This technology operates on a spectrum of intelligence ranging from semiautonomous to fully autonomous and across a variety of environments including air, sea and land.”
- In general, I do not see a lot of opportunity for autonomous things to be used in the judicial setting. Robot judges? I think not! Pretrial and probation services could perhaps use such technology in the supervision of defendants. But, how about AI-enabled robots staffing intake/public service points of contact to answer routine questions and assist the public, reducing personnel costs and ensuring consistent, current information?
- Practical Blockchain
- “Blockchain is a type of distributed ledger, an expanding chronologically ordered list of cryptographically signed, irrevocable transactional records shared by all participants in a network…It also allows two or more parties who don’t know each other to safely interact in a digital environment and exchange value without the need for a centralized authority…In the future, true blockchain or “blockchain complete” will have the potential to transform industries, and eventually the economy, as complementary technologies such as AI and the IoT begin to integrate alongside blockchain.”
- Blockchain has tremendous potential in the legal setting. The ability to effectively validate the veracity of documents and signatures can solidify the accuracy of data and records. Simplification of procedures like ODR can also be anticipated. Blockchain combined with AI and IoT is a powerful combination that should be looked at closely.
- AI Security
- “Evolving technologies such as hyperautomation and autonomous things offer transformational opportunities in the business world. However, they also create security vulnerabilities in new potential points of attack. Security teams must address these challenges and be aware of how AI will impact the security space.”
- AI security issues have profound implications. We continue to see more and more cyberattacks on government, including the courts. Ransomware is a prime example (https://courtleader.net/2019/09/10/ransomware/). The sophistication of such attacks is growing, and we must respond with proactive measures. This includes having robust capabilities, including excellent IT staff who stay current on this trend to deploy necessary system safeguards.
What do you think? Are these important trends? Are there impacts on the courts that I’ve missed? Comments are welcome.