Technology In The Legal World

With the arrival of advanced technologies into the legal world, the days of a human stenographer typing a hearing transcript may seem to be numbered. However, the art and skill of stenography will continue to offer unique advantages that even the most sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) systems will struggle to replicate for the foreseeable future.

A stenographer’s key strength is their innate understanding of tone and nuance. (We’ve all experienced the frustration of voice recognition software missing the point – did the witness say he needed an app, or a nap?). A human transcriber can effortlessly navigate various accents and speech patterns, tuning their ears and adjusting their technique in order to provide the most accurate representation of what was said. Where the precise thrust of a submission or the nuance of a piece of witness evidence may be important, this flexibility is of particular value. A stenographer will preserve the subtle cues and tones that give the full story when a transcript is being reviewed long after the immediate impact of oral evidence has faded.

Stenographers are adept at handling interruptions, overlapping speech, and other challenges that can arise in real-world conversations. Their cognitive abilities enable them to make on-the-fly decisions, distinguishing between multiple speakers and clarifying ambiguous statements. These human qualities provide a level of accuracy and reliability that AI systems, despite advancements, will struggle to achieve consistently.

Not only is a stenographer far superior to current or near future AI in terms of voice recognition and the subtleties that come with it, they also have the great advantage of being a human being. Stenographers don’t crash. They don’t stop working in a power cut. They don’t go offline if the wifi cuts out. They don’t stream the hearing record to a server outside of the jurisdiction. They don’t stare back blankly when a request is made of them by a counsel or tribunal member.

Privacy concerns also come into play when comparing stenographers to AI. Stenographers adhere to ethical standards and professional codes of conduct, ensuring the confidentiality and privacy of sensitive information. In contrast, AI systems, reliant on massive datasets, may pose potential risks in terms of data security and privacy breaches. A stenographer will have an intrinsic understanding of the importance of confidentiality and will have a reputation and standing in the industry to safeguard.

In conclusion, while there is no doubt that AI will revolutionise many aspects of the legal industry, stenographers remain indispensable in an environment that needs a nuanced understanding of human communication. The combination of human intuition, adaptability, and real-time capabilities positions stenographers as an invaluable tool. As we embrace technological progress, it’s crucial to recognise and appreciate the enduring value that skilled stenographers bring into the hearing room.

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