Artifically Intelligent Persons (continued 6)

artificial-intelligence-electronics-future-2599244 (1)The European Committee on Legal Affairs suggests an ethical framework of beneficence, non-maleficence and autonomy, and Fundamental Rights, such as human dignity and human rights, equality, justice and equity, non-discrimination and non-stigmatisation, autonomy and individual responsibility, informed consent, privacy and social responsibility. Whether these ethics and fundamental rights will be offered to AIPs remains unclear, but sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

 

Natural people tend to anthropomorphize animals and objects, and this tendency may provide greater rights to AIPs. Do you feel bad if your kitchen table ensnares your Roomba? Would you feel even worse if it was trapped and you had earlier placed googley eyes on the Roomba? If so, then you would likely agree that AIPs are entitled to receive ethical and compassionate treatment. But would they need it, or are we simply making ourselves feel better? hashtag

#artificialintelligence business communication digitaltransformation transformation leadership changemanagement machine machinelearning motivation legal

Artifically Intelligent Persons (continued 5)

artificial-intelligence-electronics-future-2599244 (1)If an AIP can decide its own actions and causes harm, then legal liability can shift from the builder over to the teacher providing the environment. If an AIP can operate independently with its environment and held accountable for its own actions, then it could be held strictly liable. Strict liability requires that a plaintiff show that the damage occurred and a causal link. This differs from negligence in that there is no need to establish the same duty of care, standard of care and breach of that duty of care. Strict liability would be allocated between builder and eventual teacher. The teacher and the surrounding environment impacts the liability shift between builder and teacher. This shift would be extremely difficult to establish in that it may take a village to raise a child, but a vast social media network environment raises an AIP.

#artificialintelligence business communication digitaltransformation transformation leadership changemanagement machine machinelearning motivation legal

Artifically Intelligent Persons (continued 4)

artificial-intelligence-electronics-future-2599244 (1)

In describing artificial intelligence, the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs outlines how the present legislation does not encompass machines that become autonomous and self-aware. A machine can be built, loaded with software, and then go on to learn from its environment. This new environmental learning suggests that the AIP can determine its own actions and learn from its experience and failures. AIPs have an advantage here since the majority of natural persons still struggle with learning from failure.

#artificialintelligence #business #communication #digitaltransformation #transformation

#leadership #changemanagement #machine #machinelearning #motivation #legal

Woke Marketing

activity-adolescent-carefree-347135

We suddenly awoke to a new type of marketing. CSR has been around a while, but this new form grabs your attention. This shows a few behaviors of note:

1. Customers want companies to take a stance (hopefully positive)

2. Diaglogue generates brand awareness (once again, hopefully in a positive way

3. Social media provides immediate measurement on how well you have done (or how fast you have to fix things)

Your marketing should attach positive values to your product. This is different from simply advertising.

A piece of plastic and metal does not necessarily carry values inherently. Your company needs to live and breathe these values you have woken.

 

#business #motivation  #life #mindfulness#personaldevelopment #personalbranding #legal

 

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

Rethinking personal office space

IMG_2334Thinking further about your own personal desk space…

A new study from CTF, Service Research Centre in Karlstad University, Sweden suggests that the more co-workers share a workspace the less satisfied they are and the more difficult it is to have a good dialogue with other staff.

This may have depended on where the studied employees started of course. Anyone with a private office suddenly cast into the open workplace community would be dissatisfied.

We should recall the Hawthorne experiments conducted in the late 20s and early 30s. Here  Western Electric in its factories outside of Chicago in the suburb of Hawthorne conducted various experiments regarding productivity. Hawthorne placed the individual in a social context and suggested that performance is influenced not only by a person’s innate abilities but also by their surrounding environment and colleagues.

The experimenters concluded that it was not so much the change in conditions that mattered, but rather the fact that someone cared about the workplace environment and gave them an opportunity to discuss the.

Staff engagement and an opportunity to have an impact on the workplace remains key in job satisfaction.

#business #motivation #life #mindfulness #personaldevelopment #personalbranding

Gary Goodwin looks at the ethic commissioner’s take on the SNC Lavalin scandal

SNC Lavalin, Trudeau, conflict of interest and the Shawcross redemption

“The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.”

Brooks Hatlen The Shawshank Redemption.

The SNC affair gathered a fair bit of attention as of late. Just in case you actually took a real vacation this summer and did not check social media, the ethics commissioner Mario Dion concluded that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau breached the Conflict of Interest Act. He did this by unduly pressuring, or having his staff pressure, the Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to enter into a remediation agreement with SNC. This type of remediation agreement avoids a criminal prosecution on fraud charges related to contracts in Libya.

Dion looked to s. 9 of the Act which states: “No public office holder shall use his or her position as a public office holder to seek to influence a decision of another person so as to further the public office holder’s private interests or those of the public office holder’s relatives or friends or to improperly further another person’s private interests.”

Dion concluded, “Simply seeking to influence the decision of another person is insufficient for there to be a contravention of s. 9.” This sounds logical since the essence of political debate involves influencing others to do what they do not want to do.

He later stated, “The second step of the analysis was to determine whether Mr. Trudeau, through his actions and those of his staff, sought to improperly further the interests of SNC-Lavalin.” Dion did state that a private benefit is also required and that SNC would benefit from a deferred prosecution. This sidesteps Trudeau’s protestations that the intent was to save Canadian jobs. No doubt, a public benefit.

The Act does not contain any sanctions, but it does provide the opportunity for the commission to issue a number of reports per year on various issues.

The conflict arises from the understanding that the AG acts in the public interest and not in the interest of the government. The Shawcross doctrine outlines the five-fold path of standards for AG independence. First, the AG must take into account all relevant facts, including the effect of a successful or unsuccessful prosecution on public morale and order — we would probably now call this the public interest. Second, the AG need not consult with cabinet colleagues but may do so. Third, the doctrine confines any assistance from cabinet colleagues to giving advice and not directions. Fourth, the AG assumes responsibility for the decision alone and the government should not apply any pressure. Fifth, the AG cannot shift decision-responsibility to the cabinet.

However, did Dion misinterpret the act? If lawyers were always right the first time, we would never have any trials. This might occur when AI lawyers appear on the scene. But, getting back to reality, Errol Mendes in his August 19 article for IPolitics neatly explains this point as to whether s. 9 only catches conflicts of interest where the government cannot claim it was acting in the public interest. The government often moves private commercial interests through taxes, subsidies or other regulatory changes. This suggests a non-violation of the act and sort of a Shawcross redemption.

Mendes also points out that apparently, the AG should resign when pressured. However, Wilson-Raybould resigned after being shifted over to Veteran Affairs. I recall in law school, or some continuing professional development session, that an in-house lawyer should resign as noisily as possible if asked to do something unethical.

Remember the situation of the taped phone calls? The media invited us to listen in so we could determine the innumerable shades of grey and decide when polite discourse, becomes wondering, suggesting and then urging. Having a lawyer tape a phone without telling the client enters a new realm of ethical discussion.

The media reported how the opposition parties accordingly leapt onto this breach-of-the-act bombshell. A lot of mixed metaphors here since one should never leap onto an explosive ordnance, which is perhaps too literal. However, the opposition parties want additional information from Dion. This fall, look to the Conservatives serving up subpoenas and schadenfreude.

Trudeau sees no need to apologize since he claims to act in the best interests of the public. Which pretty much sounds like a public benefit. However, he does assume responsibility for his actions. Which is a damn sight better than what is constantly happening the US right now.

In any event, I examined where the SNC matter fits into the entire parliamentary history of misdeeds.

Wikipedia came up first in the somewhat laid-back research I conducted for political scandals. They list the SNC matter as an affair. This sounds rather low key and something your history prof might assign. However, if the issue upgrades to a scandal later, then people talking about this over drinks becomes far more likely. Scandals with spirits sound much more scandalous.

The next historical event we come across would be the entire F35 affair – sorry – scandal. Here parliament held Harper’s government in contempt. The first government to reach this honour. The additional lesson suggests that politicians living in glasshouses should not throw subpoenas around. The F35 scandal does not appear to be finished yet.

We can take pride that our rule of law in Canada remains intact compared to the situation in the U.S. Like all good ethical dilemmas, things appear a bit murky. In Canada there appears to be a lot of moral high ground available since no one appears to be currently occupying it.

 

#legal #legalinnovation #ethics #business

The ten-fold path to retirement bliss

adult-casual-chef-1418355

 

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain

 

If you just recently came back from your vacation, you likely addressed the greatest of all existential questions. When can I retire?

 

Not that we all hate work, but some of us long for something more. Or perhaps just something different.

But what does retirement mean? Is this simply stopping work? Most of us stop work while we sleep. Some of us may dream of work, but that requires greater psychotherapy than what we have time for right now.

 

Retirement becomes a transition from one phase to another phase of life. Some consider retirement a transition into leisure, which requires its own definition.

 

Robert Stebbins, a sociologist, wrote a number of books including The Idea of Leisure, First Principles. He describes leisure as an uncoerced, contextually framed activity engaged in during free time, which people want to do and, using their abilities and resources, actually do in either a satisfying or a fulfilling way. He suggests taking four different ways to achieve this type of leisure.

 

Firstly, a person requires a good balance of activities. Constant leisure may be a difficult thing to achieve. One must include any number of things one does not want to do. Call them duties.

 

Secondly, leisure also requires positive continuous improvement. Sitting on a beach with an unending supply of tiny umbrella drinks sounds pleasant, and it likely could be for the first hour. Or two. But he suggests continuously improving oneself, even though this sounds exhausting

 

Thirdly and fourthly, he suggests positive relationships and positive interaction with the community. We are better overall interacting with the rest of society. After all, we are all in this together, and no one is getting out of here alive anyway.

 

I formulated a series of ten steps for a contented retirement. Because a constantly happy retirement would also be just as exhausting.

 

  1. Like Alice in Wonderland, metaphorically figure out where you want to end up. If you do not know where you want to go, then any road lined with mini umbrella drinks will get you there. This likely includes thinking where you actually want to be during certain points of time. Staying in one place allows seeing all of the seasons. Move around and perhaps you can follow your favorite season.

 

  1. An important point would be discussing retirement planning with your significant other. You are going to be seeing more of each other. A lot more. And if my spouse were reading this, I would just confirm that it sounds fantastic!

 

So it would better to be on the same page. After a few months, you might be thinking about exploring the middle of Asia. And your suffering spouse may be beginning to think that sending you there sounds like a good idea.

 

  1. Next, you really have to pin down your potential revenues coming in and what your expenses might be. We spend so much time on revenue generation that we do not spend the same amount of time as to what the future might look like and the potential costs of that. At some point in time, you are going to want to downsize that house along with your cars. This might correspond with increased medical costs. You might want to move closer to your children so that you can be closer to any potential grandchildren. A decrease in the distance is inversely proportional to the amount of guilt that is produced.

 

  1. If you adhere to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, then you know that actualization can be found at the very top. If you did not become actualized before you retired, then now would be the time. Figuring out what that looks like and how to get there could become a fulltime activity.

 

  1. Working part-time gives you the opportunity to bring in a bit of spending money. This might involve using the skill sets you developed at your regular job, or perhaps you might try monetizing the hobby that you have started in the past few years.

 

  1. If possible, this would also be a great time to follow your bliss. Joseph Campbell advocated this for leading a meaningful life. Most lawyers do not appear to be in a blissful state while working, so we can safely assume that this bliss might be found elsewhere.

 

  1. Like anything, trying to maximize your happiness/contentment/bliss requires planning. Although enlightenment requires serendipity, all other forms of actualization can require a bit of planning. You should not expect that going off to the deck with a cup of coffee and the morning paper is going to maximize your HCB. Maximizing your mini umbrella collection will not cut it after a while.

 

 

  1. Developing a solid relationship with another person and getting socially active ties you in with your community. Although hell might be other people, they can be of great benefit also.

 

  1. Finally, consider retiring early. One does not know what the future holds with respect your or your significant other’s health, so it would be better to take advantage of things while you can. Predictions are hard. Especially about the future says Yogi Berra.

 

  1. Don’t forget John Lennon. Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.

 

 

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

National Burnout Vacation

beach-female-girl-768114Clark Griswold: “Despite all the little problems it’s fun isn’t it?”
Ellen Griswold: “No. But with every new day, there’s fresh hope.”

National Lampoon’s Vacation

 

Like a lot of lawyers, you may have gone on vacation, or perhaps you plan to go on vacation.

So, what constitutes a vacation? Of course, lawyers love definitions, so Merriam-Webster suggests: “a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation, a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended, a period of exemption from work granted to an employee, a respite or a time of respite from something.”

So, did this actually happen? Did you totally go off the grid for that period when you had a choice? Probability suggests you checked your email, perhaps late at night or first thing in the morning before the family woke. A little quality time with your iPad perhaps.

Why do people go on vacation? Change of pace? To get away from it all? Family pressure? To de-stress?

Perhaps you hope that this de-stress hormone lasts for as least as long as the vacation itself. Or that you can you store the de-stress hormone up as easily as the extra weight you may have put on from the extra consumption of alcohol, fats and carbohydrates that you would have otherwise avoided.

In a 2018 American Psychological Association survey of more than 1500 U.S. workers, two-thirds of the respondents said that the mental benefits of vacation disappeared within a few days. So, the vacation calmness disappears far before the weight loss does.

The reasons for increased après-vacation stress can be obvious. The workload undoubtedly accumulated in your absence, things moved on during your gallivanting. Now you must move double-time to catch up and all of that stress-filled time you spent before the vacation appears not to have been enough to keep you ahead.

If you feel stressed before the vacation and even more stressed after the vacation, then one starts to wonder about the efficacy of going on vacation in the first place.

This becomes a good time to talk about burnout. In the 2015 edition of Acta Psychopathologica, work-related stress occurs when the demands of the work environment exceed the employees’ ability to cope. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5 states that disorders precipitated by specific stressful and potentially traumatic events in the workplaces are included in a new diagnostic category, “trauma and stress-related disorders.” Mind you, this abstract was dealing with the police in Italy.

If you sprain your ankle playing tennis for the first time since forever during your vacation, you likely know RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. The same RICE can identify burnout with regret, inefficacy, cynicism and exhaustion.

Over 40 per cent of California lawyers would do something different if they had to do it over again. This constitutes a high level of regret. Lack of actualization can lead to a feeling of inefficacy, and difficult as it may seem, burnout indicates even higher levels of cynicism that what you normally have. Exhaustion likely originated during articling and never dissipated.

A number of firms insist upon employees taking vacation. The firm’s rationale could range from an actual concern for employee health or for the ever-expanding health-benefit costs. If an employee leaves as a result of stress, there comes the extensive cost of locating, rehiring and training new staff. Far better to maintain the mental health of the existing staff.

In addition to vacations, employers should be considering breaks during the work cycle. Standing up and getting that wilted salad to eat in front of the computer does not cut it. An employee requires greater dedicated time to mental breaks along with physical activity on a regular basis.

The same APA study found that staff became far more productive and content with their position when employers cared about employee’s mental health.

How does an employee determine if an employer does not care about employee health and only cares about maximum productivity? Here’s a handy list of things to look out for:

  1. The organization ignores the healthy basics. Instead of healthy snacks, the vending machines are filled with sugar, salt, surgery salt, solidified fats and over-the-counter stay-awake medications.
  2. The company suggests there are no limits to productivity. This means a complete ability to work all of the time. This might be illustrated by prints showing eagles soaring through the sky, even though that’s not where the fish are.
  3. The company implies the need to be constantly on line. Perhaps they hand out those little rechargeable battery packs as bonus gifts so your phone can always be fully charged.
  4. The company does not mandate any time off. Employee of the month photos show sallowed faces, and instead of listing how many days without injury, employers list the number of days a staff has gone without a vacation.
  5. The company opposes flexible work arrangements since the attitude appears to that freedom is slavery.
  6. The top management possess the complete works of Franz Kafka, George Orwell and that dystopian one by William Golding. Other than eagles, the remaining wall prints show faces watching you.
  7. The company’s self care workshops instead of yoga emphasize speed reading and tips to get by with five hours sleep.
  8. The company maintains a great benefit plan, but it only covers over the counter products such as Red Bull and Rolaids.
  9. Your retention bonus golden handcuffs figuratively resemble golden boots encased in cement.
  10. You look up the LOA policy and it only refers to lots of aggression.

If you have one or more of these items in your workplace, then perhaps consider changing the culture or finding a new one.

#vacation

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Ontario Court of Appeal Upholds Federal Climate Legislation.

air-air-pollution-climate-change-221012

“Read my lips: no new taxes”. The Ontario Court of appeal did not expressly channel G.W. Bush, but the Court did say that the charges under the federal government Greenhouse Gas Act are regulatory. The charges are not taxes. The court did find that the Act fell within the federal government’s jurisdiction.

Even Ontario agreed that climate change is real, is caused by human activities producing GHG emissions, is having serious effects, particularly in the north, and requires proactive measures to address it. Just not now it seems.

The Act intends to be revenue neutral, so critically analyze anyone (ie politicians) pointing towards increased gas prices as a result of the Act.

Channeling Mark Twain however, the time has come to stop talking about the changing weather and actually doing something about it.

#climatechange #carbon

In Blockchain we trust

adult-bitcoin-blockchain-1037914 (1)The first thing we do, let’s disintermediate all the lawyers.

 

Imagine a virtuous world where someone says they would do something and then actually did it. Blockchain promises to revolutionize the economy since the need for virtue simply disappears. Advocates claim that Blockchain immensely raises the level of trust in the system. Alternatively, one could argue that it removes the need for trust.

 

Presently, we are more of a trust but verify type of society. If you want to buy a car, you search for comparable vehicles, haggle for the best price and sign pages of legal documents. Banks have you sign reams of paperwork and generally place a security interest on the car. The Bank also confirms the car is free of any liens. You then generally pay on time for the next four years. If you miss a couple of payments, then the bank may have to launch some proceedings for collection.

 

Undoubtedly you have heard of Bitcoin somehow in conjunction with Blockchain. Let’s ignore the Bitcoin frenzy for now and focus on what drives it.

 

Blockchain comprises a continuously growing list of records called blocks. These blocks link together using cryptography that are resistant to data modification. So instead of a single ledger of transactions held by one organization, it creates an open distributed ledger that can record transactions between parties in a verifiable way. One earlier block cannot be altered without the consensus of later blocks.

 

Blockchains can be public or private. MasterCard’s Blockchain can’t be viewed and may not have any purpose outside of marketing since all of its transactions run through the existing infrastructure. This harkens back to the time when companies advertised they were Y2K compliant.

 

You clamber down the rabbit hole and you encounter smart contracts. The name again seems a bit of a misnomer since the contracts operate a simple logic of if this happens then that happens next.

 

Smart contracts use computer protocols intended to enforce the performance of a contract. They can be fully or partially self-executing. Once various conditions are fulfilled, assets are transferred and funds are released. This transaction appears visible to all users but all parties remain anonymous.

 

We can look to Ethereum as having one of the better systems for establishing these smart contracts. Ethereum uses its own cryptocurrency called Ether. In our car example the history of the car and the dealer’s transactions reside on the Blockchain which is public. You contact your bank which has instant access to your credit history. The bank can transfer funds immediately and the dealer can arrange for the vehicle transfer by the time you get back from your test drive.

 

So long as you continue to authorize payments to the bank, all remains well. If you decide to stop payments, then the car’s systems could be disabled the next time you try to start it. Welcome to the internet of things.

 

The Blockchain concept does have the potential to extend to all types of commercial transactions. House purchases could be reduced down to days from the existing weeks it presently takes. This would require a public ledger of real estate titles, planning permissions and certificates of title. Sweden’s land-ownership authority conducts Blockchain property transactions in various staged pilot projects. A three to six month transaction could take hours instead. All that extra efficiency must come out of some intermediary’s pocket.

 

The removal of intermediaries impacts large swathes of job categories.  Any sort of job category that involves creating trust in a transaction may no longer be required. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners strongly claims that Blockchain is no mere hype train. This strong endorsement may have the effect of reducing the need for Certified Fraud Examiners by using Blockchain instead.

 

One paper suggested that insurance payouts could applied to Blockchain. They suggested that an automated system could indicate if an insured fell within an area that was recently flooded. Insurance payments would then be automatically issued.

 

Ultimately, Blockchain can be seen as a foundational change. Immense barriers remain for its adoption for businesses, government and individuals. The incorporation of Blockchain may take years.

 

However, a major function of lawyers includes the trust but verify aspect. As real estate transactions become more blockchainish, then the role of the lawyer would be substantially reduced.  This may finally drive the concept of hourly billing into a strict transactional fee type of relationship with clients.

 

Harvard Business Review goes so far as to say intermediaries such as lawyers, brokers and bankers may no longer be necessary. Not so much a ‘the first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers’ as ‘let’s disintermediate all the lawyers.’ This may not have the same emotive content, but the result would be same, lawyer wise.

 

From Lawyers Daily