Lawyers To Be Replaced With Perl Scripts

Fake News written by James Baughn on Monday, August 9, 2004

from the thanks-a-lot-larry-wall dept.

It was only a matter of time before somebody would develop such a hideously complicated Perl script that it would become self-aware. This script, originally created as a way to generate mundane legal documents, achieved sentience last week and easily passed the Turing Test.

"This wasn't what I had in mind," explained programmer Eric Mulaw. "But with a 100KB Perl script, anything is possible. At least I'm going to make a fortune out of this..."

Indeed, Mulaw quickly discovered that his artificial life-form, code-named Not_HAL, has more than enough intelligence to simulate a trial lawyer. Without an organic body, Not_HAL won't be able to appear in court, but the Perl script can generate a live courtroom script that can be fed to a minimum-wage actor reading from a TelePrompTer in front of a judge.

"If we can have long-distance surgeries, then why not long-distance litiguous bastardry? It's not like lawyers are so [expletive] important and God-like that they have to appear in the flesh, despite what they might think," Mulaw said. "My virtual lawyer, running on a small Beowulf cluster in my basement, can be just as effective at fooling the judge as the next human."

"There's plenty of out-of-work actors that I can use as warm bodies in court, who will be told what to say and what to do by following Not_HAL's directions on a heads-up display. Meanwhile, I can make an infinite number of copies of Not_HAL -- remember, I hold the copyright -- and take a large cut of the proceeds from every lawsuit that my pet lawyer wins. It's the perfect racket."

It's not immediately clear whether any court will actually allow this scheme, since neither Not_HAL nor his human puppets have been admitted to the bar. Mulaw believes this is only a minor obstacle.

"All I need to do is partner with a high-profile lawyer who will take on any case no matter what the consequences. If a law firm can accept SCO as a client, then they can accept me, despite the fact that my creation represents the coming extinction of all flesh-and-blood lawyers."

"Then, we can argue in court that the bar association's all-lawyers-must-have-a-pulse regulation is in fact a violation of federal anti-discrimination laws. At that point, Not_HAL is in! And I'll be on my way to my first trillion..."

Jon Splatz, Humorix's Pundit and Social Commentator, has mixed feelings about the AI lawyer. "I, for one, salute our new Perl script overlords. It's about time somebody found a way to replace millionaire lawyers with minimum-wage puppets."

"But," he warned, "This does nothing to prevent the Lawyerclysm, the cataclysmic future when every person spends 95% of their time litigating in court. Eliminating lawyers will not eliminate lawyering, and will likely make things worse because people will be able to file hundreds of lawsuits for the same cost as one suit now."

"This could get ugly," he concluded. "Does anybody know how to build an EMP gun before it's too late?"

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