Thursday, January 17, 2008

Distributed Dynamic Investigation, Inference, and Proof in a Legal Setting

The business of fact investigation, inference, and factual persuasion and demonstration in a legal context is convoluted enough. See A Theory of Preliminary Fact Investigation.

Matters get more convoluted when the business of investigation, inference, persuasion, and demonstration becomes both distributed and dynamic.

So: Imagine that your job is to investigate and assess a collection of evidence -- or, more broadly, to address a possible legal question that raises factual, investigative, and inferential questions -- and imagine that you are a supervising analyst, investigator, or decision maker whose job it is to supervise and coordinate the work of some underlings -- other analysts, investigators, or decision makers.

You might envision part of your task in the way I have depicted it (roughly!) in the standalone Revolution stack META-MANAGER (Windows) or META-MANAGER (Mac OS).

The ingredients of your meta-network -- the pieces of your picture of your (managerial, supervisory) task -- will consist of the networks of your underlings, which may have this structure

or, by rough equivalence, this structure

Now -- to make things worse, to make matters much, much worse (but also more interesting) -- imagine that this quasi-network of quasi-networks is your frame -- your vision of your present and future situation -- in the construct shown below as you sail through time and space (which - i.e., sailing through time - means that evidence changes, preferences change [or become clarified], and judgments [or opinions] about existing evidence change):

How will you -- supervising investigator, meta-manager of fact investigation -- manage all of this? Will you, perhaps, try not to think too much about how you manage to do what you manage to do? Or will you try to pick apart the different pieces of your complex activity? Would you do so if some parts of your inferential and investigative work could be automated?

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