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The Algorithm as a Human Artifac

The Algorithm as a Human Artifact: Implications for Legal [Re]Search

In the twenty-first-century world of legal resources, finding the right information and turning that information into knowledge that can be used to solve a legal problem or advise a client requires confronting technology as a partner in the research enterprise. Having a relationship with a partner always requires an investment of time and energy, and partnering with technology is no different. Researchers need to acquire some expertise about the technology at the meta-level. If you are searching online, as all legal researchers do, you need to remember that an algorithm is being used to return your results, and that, as a Westlaw engineer once wrote to me, “all of our algorithms are created by humans.”4 Those human creators made choices about how the algorithm would work that have implications for the search results returned to the researcher

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