Nov 082010
 
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European researchers have created a legal analysis query engine that combines artificial intelligence, game theory and semantics to offer advice, conflict prevention and dispute settlement for European law, and it even supports policy.

European law is complex, many layered and expanding. There are thousands of regulations, so many that compliance is difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

While harmonisation is underway, the process itself demands that individuals, companies and law firms often have to relearn the system.

Meanwhile, areas like intellectual property rights (IPR) and digital rights regulation that seek to combat piracy are becoming evermore complex to understand and apply consistently across Europe.

A lawyer called ALIS

Thankfully, help is at hand. The ALIS project (http://www.alisproject.eu) has developed a computerised platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI), game theory and semantic technologies to ‘understand’ and track the regulations in a large, and expanding area of expertise – in this case IPR.

ALIS sought to develop a working system in IPR to tackle the fundamental technological challenges before expanding it to more areas later on.

The system is much more than a simple database of relevant legal regulations. It uses insights from game theory to help contentious parties come to an amicable agreement, either through conflict prevention or dispute resolution, and it can assist lawmaking too.

Game theory looks at how strategic interactions between rational people lead to outcomes reflecting real player preferences. In the Ultimatum game, for example, two players decide how a sum is to be divided. The proposer suggests what the split should be, the responder either can accept or reject this offer. But if the responder rejects the split, both players get nothing.

Researchers have found that often proposers offer 50:50, even though the responder might accept less. They also found that responders always reject splits where they get less than 20 percent. In economics, this would be considered irrational, because the responder loses too, but this illustrates that fairness is a very important element in strategic interactions.

These types of interactions can be rendered mathematically thanks to game theory, and the concept is so powerful that it has migrated from applied mathematics to social sciences like economics, political science, international relations and philosophy, as well as hard sciences like biology, engineering and computer science.

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