In Brief

University of Toronto team launches a cognitive computing application that helps lawyers conduct world-class case research

When most people think of IBM’s cognitive computer Watson, they imagine the machine as a contestant on Jeopardy, answering trivia at lightning speed. Since Watson’s television debut in 2011, the supercomputer has matured from game show celebrity into professional resource; thanks to the work of students at the University of Toronto, Watson will now aid legal cases, supporting a new law research service named Ross.

Lawyers using Ross ask a legal question, and the program sifts through thousands of legal documents, statutes, and cases to provide an answer. Ross’s responses include legal citations, suggest articles for further reading, and even calculate a confidence rating to help lawyers prepare for cases. Because Ross is a cognitive computing platform, it learns from past interactions, meaning that Ross’s responses will grow to be more accurate as lawyers continue to use its system.

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