IT TURNS out science-fiction pioneer Isaac Asimov wasn't far off the mark when he wrote that artificial intelligence (AI) would soon become part of the workforce.
While the rest of us might have imagined robot cashiers, servants and waiters, the minds behind ROSS, the world's first AI attorney, were obviously dreaming a little larger.
Built on IBM's Watson platform, ROSS is designed to cut the time lawyers spend on research by sifting through mountains of data to deliver only the most relevant information to a particular case.
As opposed to the thousands of options returned by traditional web searches, ROSS is able to assess plain-English questions in real time and offer a targeted response after scanning more than a billion text documents per second.
This month ROSS scored its first job at Baker & Hostetler, where it is used within the bankruptcy department to assist a team of 50 lawyers with their case load.
According to the ROSS website, the technology 'improves upon existing alternatives by actually understanding your questions in natural sentences like Can a bankrupt company still conduct business?'
"You ask your questions in plain English, as you would a colleague, and ROSS then reads through an entire body of law and returns a cited answer and topical readings from legislation, case law and secondary sources to get you up to speed quickly," it says.
ROSS is a clear indication that integrated and smart technology have a place in the future of business.
However, before we all scramble to brush up on Asimov's three laws of robotics, it's safe to say AI won't be taking over the world anytime soon.
Get our daily business news
Sign up to our free email news updates.
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support