Legal AI Enters Audio-Visual Realm With Veritone

Most legal AI applications at present are based around written text. Now it seems there is a new push toward tapping machine learning to detect patterns in unstructured audio and visual data that may be of use in the legal context.

Artificial Lawyer will be covering more of these companies, but one that has recently hit the headlines is Veritone, which was first launched in 2014 by serial entrepreneurs, and brothers, Chad and Ryan Steelberg.

US-based Veritone’s main talent is to decipher audio and visual data, such as may be used in evidence for court cases, but also more widely for companies such as advertising agencies or retail companies.

For example, in terms of its legal uses the system can transcribe audio and then analyse it for what is called ‘sentiment’, i.e. the ideas and emotions conveyed by certain speakers, who perhaps may be witnesses in a court case. The video analysis capability can identify certain faces of people, or even certain types of object, which also helps to support defendants and claimants during evidence analysis.

That is to say, using Veritone’s technology can, it is hoped, more easily help lawyers to far more quickly review vast amounts of visual and audio data, perhaps from security cameras, for example, or company audio records of telephone calls, or simply the hundreds of hours of spoken testimony witnesses may give for a class action law suit.

Rather than have a team of paralegals spend weeks watching and listening to unstructured material, the AI technology can zap through it, picking out faces, key words and ideas, in a similar way to how natural language processing allows AI doc analysis companies to fillet thousands of contracts for key clauses in a very short time. It can also perform more down to earth transcription of audio to text.

Veritone is not a specifically law-focused company, in fact a lot of its applications are perhaps understandably used in the media world, with clients listed on the website ranging from iHeart Radio to the Westwood One media company. It has also partnered with major corporates such as fast food company Taco Bell, and also companies such as Uber, according to its website.

The newsworthy aspect with regard to legal is that the company has just announced a partnership with American eDiscovery company, CDS, to make use of the Veritone technology in conjunction with CDS’s use of the Relativity platform.

It’s also interesting to note that Veritone states on its website that it has partnered with US litigation firm, Kobre & Kim.

With regard to CDS’s use of the AI technology, it appears that at least for now the focus is on the automated transcription of audio files and integrating that output into the Relativity eDiscovery platform. But, presumably, these are early days and lawyers will no doubt start to explore the broader uses of the technology, from sentiment analysis to face recognition when occasions arise for it to be applied.

In a company statement, Chris O’Connor, Director of eDiscovery Strategy at CDS, said: ‘Clients in industries where recorded media is a part of day-to-day business will benefit from simplified eDiscovery when using the Veritone AI technology.’

It’s also interesting to note that Veritone is seeking to list publicly on the NASDAQ, which although not a legal AI company per se would mean it could become one of the first AI companies operating in the legal field to have an IPO. In this case the IPO is valued at $15m, though this is for a business that operates across several industry sectors, with a heavy focus on media clients, rather than just lawyers.