What Can eDiscovery Learn from Efforts to Eliminate Malaria?

malaria mosquito.jpgWhy does ILTA keep inviting keynote speakers who don’t appear to have any connection with legal technology? Because they are futurists who can help us imagine the future of our industry.

The first keynote at ILTACON17 Innovate or Die Trying: From the Mind of a World-Renowned Hacker, made me think more deeply about the future of data and legal technology. Monday morning in Las Vegas, Pablos Holman of Intellectual Ventures Laboratory, who refers to himself as a hacker and inventor, talked about the need to address problems in new ways.

One of his goals is to eliminate malaria, the most prolific killer worldwide, with 725,000 annual victims. In the 50’s and 60’s it was successfully eliminated from some areas of the planet by using pesticides, like DDT, which indiscriminately killed everything in its path. That isn’t a viable option anymore, since there are beneficial insects in malaria-ridden areas which must be protected. (Not to mention the mammals and reptiles it adversely affects.) His solution: find a way to target and kill only the malaria-carrying mosquitos. Holman is using multiple technologies to first identify female members of the target species based on their wing beat speed, and then kill each bug individually. His system tracks its activity to learn more and continue to improve.

I immediately saw an inverse correlation between that and what we do in eDiscovery. We need to identify and protect what we want and eliminate what we don’t. There was a time when data sets were manageable and we could accomplish this using rudimentary technologies. Today, that’s not possible. We need to use advanced technologies to identify what we are looking for in vast data sets.

Just as it is unreasonable to expect that humans can find all the mosquitos in an area, it is equally as unreasonable to expect them to find all relevant documents in today’s massive data sets. Technology, like the supervised-learning data analytics tools that power iCONECT-XERA Predictive Review, are necessary if we hope to target key documents. And, while the system might have a basic idea of what we are looking for early in the project, with the continuous learning protocols used in TAR 2.0, accuracy improves as the computers learn more. 

 Have you read about any new technologies that you believe the eDiscovery, e-disclosure, data investigation industry should learn from? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

   
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