According to Wikipedia,
a “Computer is a machine that can be instructed to carry out sequences of
arithmetic or logical operations automatically via computer programming. Modern
computers have the ability to follow generalized sets of operations, called
programs. These programs enable computers to perform an extremely wide range of
For the purpose of this
discourse, the term “computer” is used to refer generally to computers, robots,
and other types of information and communications technologies.
Nowadays, computers are
used to carry out activities which in the past were carried out by humans. In
the education sector, learning has been taken beyond the four walls of a class
room, with the advent of online/virtual learning platforms such as Coursera,
edX, Udemy etc., there now exists opportunities to gain knowledge outside the
classroom and most of these courses are self-paced. It has been unofficially
reported that the largest percentage of Nigerian software
developers/programmers did not learn the skill in school but learnt the skill
via online learning platforms such as YouTube, Codecademy etc.
Another example which
readily comes to mind is the banking sector. The Automated Teller Machine (ATM)
is another means wherein computers have been employed to carry out duties
traditionally carried out by humans.
These machines are found on almost all streets in Nigeria, which makes
depositing and withdrawal of cash, ATM card request and hotlisting among other
things easy, unlike in the past when bank customers have to wait on a long
queue for bank officials in order to deposit, withdraw money or request for
Without further ado,
the uses and attendant ease that the invention of the computer has brought to
the human race cannot be overstated. The computer is used in every facet of our
life as it makes life easier. However, a critical examination of the statement
above “computers are used to carry out activities which in the past were
carried out by humans”, leave the mind to wonder about the continued relevance
of the human brain, knowledge and skills in the future coupled with the
continued development of computer.
Computer scientists are
working on reproducing all human skills with computer capabilities using
artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics. The development of
these capabilities will have far-reaching implications for work and education. Unsurprisingly
then, many people worry that these advances will dramatically change work
skills in the years ahead and perhaps leave many workers unemployable.
According to Organization
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2017 assessment, the expert
assessment showed that 62% of workers in OECD countries use skills (the three
general cognitive skills of literacy, numeracy and problem solving) on a daily
basis at work but with proficiency at a level that computers are close to
reproducing. Only 13% of workers now use skills on a daily basis with higher
proficiency than computers. 
With the above
backdrop, it is pertinent to state here that the concept of virtual/remote work
and online freelancing is no longer news and it is fast gaining ground even
here in Nigeria. Companies and organizations now employ workers who work from
home between a stipulated period of time, even though this development may have
its own disadvantages but its advantages includes reduction in the cost of
procuring a large office space, office equipment such as workstations, laptops
Also, there has been arguments
about building robots to be recruited into the police force and the army in
order to fight crimes and go to wars. Some of the arguments include the fact
that since robots are not human, there will be a great reduction in the
corruption going on in the police force especially the issues of bribery and
demanding money for bail, after all you can’t bribe a machine. It was also
argued that robots fighting wars will reduce soldiers’ death rate, hence
preserving their lives. Others have
argued that if robots take over all or some of human jobs then unemployment
will skyrocket as there will be a huge reduction in the demand for manpower.
have been periodic waves of concern about unemployment resulting from new
technology. This stretches back at least two centuries to the early industrial
revolution (Mokyr, Vickers and Ziebarth, 2015). . As
technology advances, automation of certain skills is raising questions about
the changes in the quantity of jobs that will be needed in the future.
Globally in the legal
profession, one of the characteristics of a good law practice or a good law
firm is its library. Lawyers are known to boast about the number of law
textbooks, law reports, statutes and legislations, law dictionaries, law
digests etc. they have in their offices. This was indeed a prestige and in
order to manage a law library there is a need to employ a librarian or at least
a “library keeper”.
However, there is a
need to ask whether these “library keepers” skills are still in demand since nowadays
law firms are going “paperless”. Law reports are now compiled on platforms
which are easily accessible on computers through the internet such example here
in Nigeria include LawPavillion, Legalpedia etc., softcopies of laws are now
available and some have been developed into downloadable mobile applications,
legal text authors are now making the softcopy of their texts available online,
important documents are now kept on cloud storages etc.
the notion that Artificial Intelligence (AI) i.e. computerized systems can
replace human thought processes and interactions, continues to gain traction in
all areas of life including the legal profession and in particular in the field
of dispute resolution.
According to Kluwer Mediation Blog ,
in November 2017 there were news headlines about ‘Case Cruncher Alpha’, a
project at Cambridge University, where an AI system predicted the outcome of
775 financial ombudsman cases with 86.6% accuracy. A panel of 100 experienced
lawyers assembled to perform the same task achieved 66.3%.
It is argued that
by around 2045 a point of super artificial intelligence will have been reached
creating almost limitless capacity for tasks such as problem solving. Humanly
speaking, such predictions seem more unsettling, even frightening, than
reassuring or exciting.
In a country like
Nigeria, where the system of dispute resolution is adjudicatory in nature, could
AI have the potential to process claims faster and even make a decision about
cases? Would claimants tolerate their cases being resolved by computers? Will
AI reach a point where a robot might represent a client or even chair a
However, as AI increasingly
becomes part of our day-to-day lives – e.g. the use of automated machines,
online shopping and payment, the use of Siri and or Cortana, online courses
etc., to the point that we allow AI to drive us and our families around in
self-driving cars – there will come a time where we are completely comfortable
in letting the algorithm adjudicate our case for us. What once sounded like
pure science fiction is now, because of developments seeming remote but not
Conclusively, over the
coming decades it is likely that there will be strong economic pressure to
apply computer capabilities in almost every sector of the economy. It is
reasonable to conclude that there will be an overall decrease in demand for “those
workers” – the vast majority – whose proficiency is no better than that of
current computer capabilities. This does not mean that these workers will
become unemployed, but they will become less valuable for many work tasks, and
that will reduce employment in some cases and reduce wages in others.
In a world where
technology is improving every day, the future of skill demand in all sectors
especially in the legal space is shaky as computer scientists keep working on
reproducing all human skills with computer capabilities, however there is a
need to stay relevant since these machines directly or indirectly need human
input or control to function.
Hence in order to stay
relevant, it is recommended that legal practitioners as well as paralegals should
endeavor to upgrade their skills (the same way computer operating systems are
continuously upgraded) and acquire new skills especially skills that are relevant
in this technological era.
At this juncture, it is
important to reiterate that communication, negotiation, legal research and
advocacy skills are solely no longer enough to stay relevant in the legal space
vis-a-vis the dynamic nature of technology.
According to World
Economic Forum (WEF), by 2022 the growing skills outlook include analytic
thinking and innovation, active learning and learning strategies, critical
thinking and analysis, leadership and social influence, emotional intelligence,
reasoning, problem-solving and ideation, creativity, originality and
initiative, complex problem-solving among others. 
While acquiring new
skills and upgrading old ones, it is important to state that these skills
should not only be learnt but also mastered up to proficiency level higher than
One thing is certain –
the world is fast moving and we need to keep abreast of the technological developments
in the legal space, unlearn redundant skills and learn new ones, without this
one will be left behind in the world of oblivion.
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2017 Assessment
Journal of Economic Perspectives Summer 2015.
Economic Forum (WEF); 2022 Skills Outlook
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