AI & Online Expertise

One area where artificial intelligence stands to make some interesting inroads is expertise. Until the internet and certainly the past 10 years, if you needed legal advice, you went to a lawyer. If you wanted tax advice, you could do a lot of reading or go to a financial advisor. If you had medical questions, you went to your doctor.

Internet search engines have made the search for information much easier without going to a professional. However, there’s a caveat. Only a fool would become his or her own lawyer, doctor, financial advisor or insurance agent, unless they had the required training. Even then, an objective opinion would be advisable.

Today, we’re increasingly seeing the application of artificial intelligence to these professions and to the online expertise being offered. As you wander through the internet maze, be careful to separate the mercenary ads from the legitimate and balanced advice.

In the tax field, there are automated and online services, like TurboTax, that guide you through the preparation of your taxes at a much lower cost than hiring a tax accountant or provider. It takes some understanding of your own tax situation, which is helpful no matter which way you go, but it means no longer needing to hire someone to do your taxes and thus saving money. As these software applications get more robust, they will displace more sophisticated tax advice services.

In the legal field, forms are increasingly being supplied online by governmental agencies and non-profits for free and from legal organizations for a nominal fee compared to hiring an attorney at much higher hourly rates. I’m not recommending acting as your own attorney, but for certain simple matters requiring a legal form, they’re now available.

In development and coming soon are more sophisticated software solutions to legal matters that act like TurboTax for taxes. These applications ask a series of questions to determine your specific needs, including what state you’re in, and then create the legal forms for wills, powers of attorney, bills of sale, etc.

For those people who currently don’t deal with these issues because of the cost, this offers an opportunity to provide the legal protection you’re not already getting. For those who currently hire a lawyer, I don’t want to advise you to discontinue that relationship, but as a science fiction writer, I see a time when 90% of lawyers who prepare forms and provide other basic legal expertise will no longer be needed. One day, your AI agent may replace your lawyer.

When it comes to medical advice, there is plenty on the internet and much of it isn’t helpful. Some can be downright dangerous. So, should you look to the internet for medical advice or not? My suggestion would be to stick with reputable sites such as the Mayo Clinic, the National Institutes of Health, and WebMD.

As these sites apply AI to their analysis and presentation of information they will begin to look more and more like a visit to your primary care physician or at least the nurse in that office. Reputable sites can be a good sounding board as to the severity of your symptoms and how urgently you need to visit an emergency room or your regular physician. However, use them with caution. It’s your health.

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