175-year old start-up Wolters Kluwer organizes multiple initiatives to stimulate the understanding of technology. A software company with a strong history of subject matter expertise attracts smart thinkers.
Ali Hashemi: “We’re in the middle of a cognitive computing revolution. This is in contrast to what we had in the past decade: the digital revolution. And prior to that was the print revolution that took a few thousand years. We’re increasingly going to see a lot of artificial intelligence technologies deployed across the whole spectrum of computing solutions.
Cognitive computing is a relatively new term. It’s been popularized since IBM’s Watson had success on Jeopardy! and it really captures the fact that computers can now do a lot of things that we thought were only in the purview of humans. Computers can now understand aspects and think, more importantly, in similar ways to humans. And so we can engage with computers on a cognitive level.”
Wolters Kluwer is an attractive partner for companies and employer of choice for individuals that want to deploy the latest technologies. They are driven by curiosity on how to apply these new ways of thinking to the work of professionals.
Ali: “When we think of what professionals are doing, for example a lawyer or a doctor, this means that the cognitive computing and artificial intelligence technologies will allow us to address a lot of the problems that came about as a result of the digital revolution. One of the unseen consequences was that we have way more information than most people know what to do with. We have a deluge of information and what these technologies will allow us to do is to find that needle in the haystack. Find that relevant bit of information which helps you solve the problem at hand.”
According to Ali, we can look at the three different revolutions that have occurred in humans interacting with knowledge: print, digital, and cognitive computing from a concrete use case that a lawyer might deal with: copyright infringement.
If the lawyer has a client who is embroiled in some sort of lawsuit about copyright infringement, in the print revolution they would need to know what books contain material about this, they would find that book, open it, look inside the book, find the relevant sections, maybe manually copy out, write notes, highlight, photocopy, etcetera. Then they would build the requisite knowledge that helps them solve the problem.
“In the digital revolution, once you’ve made all these print materials digitized, the lawyers now work on a computer, and we had entered what I would call the ‘dumb search era.’ A lawyer would go in and type in ‘infringement’ into a computer, a dumb search takes the exact string, that exact word, and matches it into all the content it has at its disposal, and serves it up to the lawyer. The downside of this is that you could get a lot of irrelevant information, and this is what gives rise to that deluge, that giant haystack,” sees Ali.
As an artificial intelligence expert, Ali is intrigued by the next steps in the evolution of the information and knowledge industries, “when we get to the cognitive computing revolution, the one that we’re at the cusp of, a lot of the artificial intelligence technologies will allow us to actually engage with the lawyer at the cognitive level. That means that the computer will now know what the lawyer is thinking about.”
“If we’re talking about someone who is in the Netherlands and is being accused of copyright infringement in the U.S., it would know that there are treaties governing what goes on in that; it knows that the Netherlands is part of the European Union. It can draw on all of this knowledge to sort the content and provide answers that will allow the lawyer to do what they need to do.”
One of the projects Ali has been working on in the past year with Wolters Kluwer’s Vincent Henderson, based in France, and Christian Dirschl, based in Germany, is the automatic update of legislation. This is one of the first steps towards the cognitive computing revolution. “What we’re doing is taking what used to be a very manual process and automating a significant portion of that. We are not removing the human from the loop, but what we are doing is removing the mundane tasks that people had to do and allowing people to focus on more interesting problems.”
An example of innovation and the hand-in-hand technology development of our global organization and the business units is Zeteo Swipe. Legal & Regulatory Sweden teamed up with the Global Platform Organization to deploy mobile access for their Zeteo product. Zeteo provides access to over 300 different legal publications available on Zeteo on-the-go, the Swedish online search platform. The e-book library contains 250 titles. Zeteo Swipe runs on the local Swedish publishing platform using the online service architecture and Global Platform Organization’s mobile framework.
Wolters Kluwer organizes several technology and innovation events throughout the year such as its Annual Technology Conference that took place simultaneously in Minneapolis, U.S. and Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in July 2013. Over 300 people had the opportunity to learn and share ideas with their peers and other industry experts on the latest thinking in cloud computing, big data, mobility, and social media.
Our technology staff is also actively contributing to the annual user conferences around the globe, where our customers hear about our new product developments.