What is Deep Tech and how does it hold the potential for building a better future?
Technology is ever-evolving and scientific discoveries and engineering are disrupting almost every industry we know. A decade ago, we didn’t even know how to classify a startup developing an AI technology to cure a deadly disease, and things like biotech and cryptocurrency were just some things that could not be classified into an umbrella industry but now we do have an industry for them. To distinguish one phenomenon from the other, the term “deep tech” was coined.
Introduction to Deep Tech
Deep Tech is having a profound impact on segments including autonomous systems, robotics, smart houses and cities, medical devices, cleantech, energy efficiency, and many more developing or emerging application areas.
Deep tech — the generic term for technologies not focussed on end-user services that include artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain, advanced material science, photonics and electronics, biotech, and quantum computing — has been an identified category for investment as long as the tech industry itself. The term ‘deep tech’ was coined by Swati Chaturvedi, the founder, and CEO of the online investment platform Propel(x), which connects early-stage Deep Tech with investors.
Deep Tech is often set apart by its profound enabling power, the differentiation it can create, and its potential to catalyse change, and deep tech companies often possess fundamental and defensible engineering innovations that distinguish them from those companies that are focussed on the incremental refinement or delivery of standardised technologies or only use business model innovation to create opportunities. Deep tech is often also seen as a school of thought that aims to understand how to digitise all areas of life.
For deep tech, the business starts with and circles around some sort of real innovative technology which is deployed to solve almost intractable problems in the real world. Deep tech companies promise solutions in a wide range of fields, using techniques such as big data, artificial intelligence, or deep learning, with a more scientific approach than is typically seen in the tech companies covered by the media. The technology can span across many technological areas and can impact diverse applications – on the technological front, these can include processing and computing architecture innovations, advances in semiconductors and electronic systems, power electronics, vision and speech algorithms and techniques, artificial intelligence and machine learning, haptics, and more. Usually, deep tech startups operate on but are not limited to, agriculture, life sciences, chemistry, aerospace, and green energy.
Successful deep tech ventures bring together multiple talents (including scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs) to solve a problem and often they develop brand-new technologies because no existing technology fully solves the problem at hand. In some instances, though, success depends on developing new applications for established technologies.
Deep tech covers a vast swathe of technological areas, which aren’t focussed on end-user services. These include: artificial intelligence and machine learning, big data, language processing, vision and speech algorithms, robotics, blockchain, advanced material science, photonics and electronics, biotech, and quantum computing.
Features of Deep Tech
Deep tech breakthroughs are revolutionary, and they either disturb or create new markets. Deep-tech innovations frequently alter people’s lives, industries, and communities.
Deep tech frequently necessitates a significant amount of initial research and development funds, prototyping, concept validation, and technological advancement.
Scale and Time
Deep technology development takes far longer than shallow technology development to create the technology and attain market-ready maturity (like mobile apps and websites). Artificial intelligence took decades to create, and it is still far from flawless.
Properties of Deep Tech
- It is focused on resolving issues. As evidenced by the fact that 97 per cent of deep tech enterprises contribute to at least one of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, they are focussed on huge and fundamental concerns.
- It works at the intersection of technology. For example, 96 per cent of deep tech businesses employ at least two technologies, with 66 per cent employing multiple advanced technologies. About 70 per cent of deep tech startups have patents on their products.
- Rather than software, it primarily creates tangible items. Indeed, 83 percent of deep tech startups are working on a physical product. They’re transferring the power of data and computation to the physical world, altering the innovation equation from bits to bits and atoms.
- It is in the midst of a complex ecology. Deep tech is being pursued by over 1,500 colleges and research institutes, with deep tech firms receiving over 1,500 government funding in 2018.
Future of Deep Tech
AI, advanced materials, blockchain, biotechnology, robotics, drones, photonics, and quantum computing are just a few of the deep tech topics that are rapidly advancing from early research to practical applications. It’s a new industrial revolution in the sense that new platform technologies and infrastructures are revolutionising the way we live and work. When you consider how much has changed since the last wave of new platform technologies, such as the internet, mobile technologies, PCs, and silicon chips, you can see how far deep tech can advance broad industries and solve or mitigate global issues such as global warming, disease, feeding a growing global population, and dealing with ageing populations.
It isn’t a stretch to say that deep tech is the actual future as it is spreading its wings quicker than a timberland fire. Today, profound tech significantly affects practically every part of the economy like robotics, the automotive industry, smart homes, smart cities, medical services, agritech (agriculture technology), edtech (educational tech), fintech, and healthcare. So, every part of the future looks like it will be disrupted by deep tech.
Several governments are promoting Deep Tech Research and Development (R&D) projects because deep tech is focused on using technology and engineering for sustainability and the greater good. Governments across the globe are bolstering their deep-tech industries, from emerging to developed economies. A deep-tech incubator initiative has been established by the New Zealand government. The government’s innovation agency is in charge of the program, which aims to assist deep tech firms and create new tech jobs. Singapore has developed a robust deep tech ecosystem by leveraging the funding environment, the presence of global enterprises, research and higher learning institutions, and the government’s innovation and entrepreneurship-friendly policies. SGInnovate and Enterprise Singapore collaborate with Deep Tech startups in advanced manufacturing, urban solutions and sustainability, and healthcare and biomedical sciences. The Critical Analytics for Manufacturing Personalised-Medicine (CAMP), a collaboration between the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) and A*STAR for cell therapy manufacturing, helps to fuel this ecosystem. Deep tech startups are also supported and subsidised by the government. Additional funding for Deep Tech firms was promised in the 2020 budget as part of the Start-up SG Equity scheme.
Governments around the world will invest in deep tech research as they become more concerned about the quality of their populations’ lives and environmental goals.
Deep Tech in the Legal Sector
While technology is evolving quickly and embracing concepts such as internationalisation and globalisation, traditional law, for the most part, is slow to respond and adapt to these technological developments and is primarily confined to national borders. But the broader concept of the rule of law, on the other hand, resists being bound by national borders and obtains international legitimacy.
Deep tech can be a very useful technology in the legal sector but it is not being adopted widely. To accelerate the use of deep tech in the legal sector, law practitioners and companies have to actively invest in this area. More money should be put towards advanced legal solutions technology and R&D. While the aggregate deep tech R&D investment in all major industries is 5 per cent or more of revenue, few legal firms aim for less than 1 per cent. The responsible legal service providers are investing less in R&D, the lawtech start/scaleup market increased 101 per cent in the last three years, outpacing other tech sectors. The deep tech startup scene acts as a stimulus for technology innovation across the board within the legal sector. General counsels and in-house legal departments can position themselves as the legal industry’s powerhouse, using their purchasing power to push innovation and technology adoption.
Big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, and chatbots, are just a few terms that have become a part of our professional legal and political vocabulary and emerging technologies and technological advancements have confronted law practitioners in their daily practice and will continue to do so in the future.
All of these advancements also have significant benefits when used in the legal sector. Data analytics for law firms can help clean up, structure, and analyse raw data from dockets and other legal documents. In practice, data analytics for lawyers tools are helping them make data-driven decisions on which to build their legal strategies which could mean things like knowing the probability of a specific motion outcome, how seemingly unrelated cases connect or how much a settlement award could be. The major benefits of law firms’ data analytics are saving time, reducing risk, improving decision-making, and increasing goodwill and trust from clients.
Similarly, AI and machine learning is providing legal technology solutions and transforming the practice of law in various ways – like, helping law firms manage their operations as well as augmenting and reducing many of the tasks that were previously relied upon humans to do, saving precious time and manpower that can be otherwise used for more productive tasks. Some Legal Artificial Intelligence tools can automate simple workflows in civil matters, providing wider access to the law to people who cannot afford legal counsel.
Advances in deep tech – especially automation, provide law firms with various advanced legal softwares such as e-billing, e-signature, dashboards, workflow automation tools, and general compliance. One example of this is e-discovery algorithms that lawyers and law firms have been using for a long time to locate and gain access to files and documents on a case or relevant to it. The algorithm which falls under legal tech solutions is much swifter at finding these documents and more accurate, too — it finds 95 percent of relevant documents, compared to just 51 percent for humans.
AI is also being used for contract drafting which can be a very tedious, time-consuming, and expensive process. AI tools for lawyers allow identification, extraction, and analysis of business information contained in large volumes of contract data which is used to create contract summary charts for M&A due diligence.
Quantum technology will also impact the legal profession and some expect they will perform complex tasks on a large scale with an efficiency and speed that surpasses human intelligence, including that of the best lawyers – such powerful tools could automate legal reasoning, eg, by automatically drafting contracts or conducting a due diligence process in the context of M&A. Some even argue that quantum technology will be capable of predicting the outcome of court cases.
And although quantum computing is another example of how deep tech could advance computing and processing capabilities and it has major repercussions when it comes to law. It is expected that quantum computers will be able to hack into many of today’s encryption systems due to their much greater computing power, which will enable them to decipher the keys used for these encryption systems, however complex they may be. Quantum computers will have a direct impact on the protection of personal or confidential information that’s been stored on local and remote servers- so, state, federal, and international legislation should be modified or updated to address the issues.
Even though deep tech has so many advantages when used in the legal sector, a significant challenge to the rule of law is emerging in the form of technical advances in deep tech. As advances in the academic field of deep tech are achieved, this technology is beginning to find its way into digital decision-making systems, effectively replacing human decision-makers. The use of AI to aid judges in making judicial decisions is a prime example of this advancement. However, because of its intricacy and legal protection, this development is often referred to as a “black box” in many situations. The lack of transparency and limited ability to comprehend the working of deep tech, which is increasingly being used by governing organisations, is undermining traditional concepts of the rule of law. This is especially true when it comes to concepts like transparency, justice, and consistency, which are all linked with the rule of law.
Which system should I choose?
This is the key question when picking among the variety of management systems available in the market. You need to consider a few key aspects of each system: deciding between on-cloud vs on-premise software, payment methods, maintenance costs, the firm’s usage, current system compatibility and the training required to use each available system.
1) On-Cloud vs On-Premise Software
Legal practice management software can be available both on-cloud or on-premise/server-based software. There are advantages and disadvantages to each kind and the utility of each will vary based on the firm’s needs .
From a monetary standpoint, cloud-based platforms are usually paid for annually or monthly, whereas a local or on-premise system will require high upfront costs. While there will be no regular payments for this kind of system, there will be maintenance costs, and the firm will have to make sure it is secure and updated.
On the other hand, with cloud-based software, the responsibility of this falls to the service provider. Cloud-based solutions comparatively have more advantages, such as automatic software upgrades, which save time and money by removing the cost of hardware maintenance and the ability to access the firm’s database from any location . One major issue with local or on-premise software is that it must be installed on multiple computers, leading to troubleshooting issues .
2) Firm Usage
Beyond some of the differences between cloud-based and on-premise management systems, it is important to consider the firm’s usage. For example, a cloud-based system would be more practical if the employees often work from home or need access to important documents in courtrooms. This is because one can log onto these systems easily from any location as long as they have a stable internet connection.
Furthermore, firms should also consider how much training is required to use each available system and what system is most compatible with the existing software. Investigating these areas will allow a firm to decide what legal practice management system is best for them.
4) Data Protection Compliance
Every law firm’s first priority is to keep client information secure and confidential. Therefore, it is extremely important to ensure that you are investing in a practice management system that is secure compared to others. You will need to ensure that the technology used is not outdated, all system data is encrypted and that the system has been audited by a third party to ensure additional security . Lastly, it would be best if you also inquired about the security measures taken by the manufacturers to ensure that any third party cannot hack into the system.
More law firms are moving toward adopting different forms of software to become more efficient and compete in the market. Adopting legal practice management systems is a change that law firms should welcome as it enables lawyers to perform their jobs more efficiently and helps them work more effectively. It is important however to keep in mind that not all software is the same. Each has its advantages, and before deciding to make the jump, one must make an informed decision regarding whether they need a legal practice management system and, if so, which system is best for their firm.
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- Legal Futures Associate, LEAP Legal Software, ‘Key Considerations for Law Firms When Choosing Legal Software’, Legal Futures, (2021) at https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/associate-news/key-considerations-for-law-firms-when-choosing-legal-software
- Clio, ‘Legal Practice Management Software’ at https://www.clio.com/law-practice-management-software/
- Teresa Maitch, ’10 Things to Consider Before Choosing Case Management Software’, Clio at https://www.clio.com/uk/blog/choosing-case-management-software/