Saturday, July 16, 2005

AI & Law in Law Schools

The following paper by Tom Gordon looks very interesting:

Artificial Intelligence and Legal Theory at Law Schools

I wish Tom Gordon all success.

I am not an "AI person"; for example, I cannot (alas!) write even very simple code. But I have a strong interest in AI work, which I think has an enormous amount to contribute to the study (and practice) of law. One lovely thing about AI is that it is deeply "theoretical" but, like other sciences, it supposes that there must be proof in ("of"?) the pudding: AI recipes, if they are any good, must -- it is thought -- "work" in the ("some"?) "real world." What a refreshing thought. Are you listening, legal theorists?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

SIDS a/k/a Cot Death & the Doctrine of Chances in the UK: The Sally Clark Case

Michael McCarthy, "GMC [General Medical Council]: Meadow failed in his duty as expert witness,"The Independent Online Edition (14 July 2005):
One of Britain's most eminent paediatricians, Professor Sir Roy Meadow, gave "erroneous" and "misleading" evidence in the trial of a solicitor, Sally Clark, who was found guilty of murdering her two sons, but later cleared, the General Medical Council ruled.

Sir Roy, former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, failed in his duty as an expert witness to explain the limited relevance of his findings, a GMC fitness-to-practise panel said yesterday, when he told Mrs Clark's trial the chance of two babies dying of cot death within an affluent family was "one in 73 million".


Mrs Clark was arrested in 1998 over the deaths of her sons Christopher and Harry, and in November 1999, after Sir Roy had testified against her, she given two life sentences for their murder. But in January 2003, she had her convictions quashed on appeal, with the judges criticising Sir Roy's evidence.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Fuzziness of Natural Thinking

Lotfi Zadeh, From Computing with Numbers to Computing with Words -- From Manipulation of Measurements to Manipulation of Perceptions (1999):
The depth of scientific tradition of respect for numbers and derision for words was reflected in the intensity of hostile reaction to my ideas by some of the prominent members of the scientific elite. In commenting on my first exposition of a linguistic variable in 1972, Rudolph Kalman had this to say:
I would like to comment briefly on Professor Zadeh's presentation. His proposals could be severely, ferociously, even brutally criticized from a technical point of view. This would be out of place here. But a blunt question remains: Is Professor Zadeh presenting important ideas or is he indulging in wishful thinking? No doubt Professor Zadeh's enthusiasm for fuzziness has been reinforced by the prevailing climate in the U.S. -- one of unprecedented permissiveness. "Fuzzification" is a kind of scientific permissiveness; it tends to result in socially appealing slogans unaccompanied by the discipline of hard scientific work and patient observation.
In a similar vein, my esteemed colleague Professor William Kahn -- a man with a brilliant mind -- offered this assessment in 1975:
"Fuzzy theory is wrong, wrong, and pernicious," says William Kahan, a professor of computer sciences and mathematics at Cal whose Evans Hall office is a few doors from Zadeh's. "I can not think of any problem that could not be solved better by ordinary logic." What we need is more logical thinking, not less. The danger of fuzzy theory is that it will encourage the sort of imprecise thinking that has brought us so much trouble."
What Lord Kelvin, Rudolph Kalman, and many other brilliant minds did not appreciate is the fundamental importance of the remarkable human capability to perform a wide variety of physical and mental tasks without any measurements and any computations. Familiar example of such tasks are parking a car; driving in heavy traffic; playing golf; understanding speech and summarizing a story.

A Fuzzy Anniversay

The year 2005 is the 40th anniversaty of the publication of Lotfi Zadeh's Fuzzy Sets in 8 Information and Control 338-353 (1965).