Tam shares that A.I. may be having a Netscape moment.
There are parallels between today’s fervor for A.I.-powered chatbots like ChatGPT and Bard and the excitement over the Netscape browser from the 1990s.
Both allowed people to recognize the possibilities around an existing technology, leading to new innovation.
The Netscape browser was one of the first tools that helped people easily surf the World Wide Web. While the internet had been around since the 1960s, in its early days it was used mostly by academics, and it was difficult for anyone else to gain access to it.
I get it, I was a lawyer of thirteen years in 1996 when I jumped onto AOL and the Netscape web browser. My life changed overnight..
While the Internet had been around since the 1960’s, it wasn’t until the launch of Netscape that the average person had access to the web.
I got on the web as a way of connecting with people for good. Thousands of people were looking for legal information on both AOL’s message boards and on websites accessed via Netscape.
As Tam reports, Netscape spawned the late-1990s dot-com boom, with the establishment of websites like eBay and Amazon, eventually giving rise to the internet that we know today.
Chatbots and AI have similarly turned A.I. loose on the public, while A.I. has been around for decades. Meta, Microsoft, and Google are going to rise to how we come to know and use AI.
For lawyers, like Netscape was twenty-five years ago, A.I. represents our opportunity to connect with people like never before.
A.I. represents our opportunity to help provide practical legal insight and information on niche subjects and niche locales.
The web has made legal information more available, but the number of people who find legal services inaccessible – about 85% of Americans – remains on the rise.
This is a gap that is worth trying to close via A.I.
Much of the discussion of AI in legal is about how A.I. effects lawyers, law firms and legal technology companies. Absent is most discussion is how A.I.
Lost, in most discussions, is how A.I. can help provide access meaningful access to the law and legal services.
No doubt, the impact on legal organizations is important to consider, but we can also look at A.I., like Netscape before it, as an opportunity to connect lawyers to people – except in a much grander way.