It’s certainly an exciting time be involved in Natural Language Processing (NLP), not only for those of us who are involved in the development and cutting-edge research that is powering its growth, but also for the multitude of organizations and innovators out there who are finding more and more ways to take advantage of it to gain a competitive edge within their respective industries.
With the global NLP market expected to grow to a value of$16 billion by 2021, it’s no surprise to see the tech giants of the world investing heavily and competing for a piece of the pie. More than 30 private companies working to advance artificial intelligence technologies have been acquired in the last 5 years by corporate giants competing in the space, including Google, Yahoo, Intel, Apple and Salesforce. 
It’s not all about the big boys, however, as NLP, text analysis and text mining technologies are becoming more and more accessible to smaller organizations, innovative startups and even hobbyist programmers.
NLP is helping organizations make sense of vast amounts of unstructured data, at scale, giving them a level of insight and analysis that they could have only dreamed about even just a couple of years ago.
Today we’re going to take a look at 3 industries on the cusp of disruption through the adoption of AI and NLP technologies;
While we’re still a long long way away from robot lawyers, the current organic crop of legal professionals are already taking advantage of NLP, text mining and text analysis techniques and technologies to help them make better-informed decisions, in quicker time, by discovering key insights that can often be buried in large volumes of data, or that may seem irrelevant until analyzed at scale, uncovering strategy-boosting and often case-changing trends.
Let’s take a look at two examples of how legal pro’s are leveraging NLP and text analysis technologies to their advantage;
Ediscoveryrefers to discovery in legal proceedings such as litigation, government investigations, or Freedom of Information Act requests, where the information sought is in electronic format. Electronic documents are often accompanied by metadata that is not found on paper documents, such as the date and time the document was written, shared, etc. This level of minute detail can be crucial in legal proceedings.
As far as NLP is concerned, ediscovery is mainly aboutinformation retrieval, aiding legal teams in their search for relevant and useful documents.
In many cases, the amount of data requiring analysis can exceed 100GB, when often only 5% – 10% of it is actually relevant. With outside service bureaus charging $1,000 per GB to filter and reduce this volume, you can start to see how costs can quickly soar.
Data can be filtered and separated by extracting mentions of specific entities (people, places, currency amounts, etc), including/excluding specific timeframes and in the case of email threads, only include mails that contain mentions of the company, person or defendant in question.
NLP enables contract management departments to extract key information, such as currency amounts and dates, to generate reports that summarize terms across contracts, allowing for comparisons among terms for risk assessment purposes, budgeting and planning.
In cases relating to Intellectual Property disputes, attorneys are using NLP and text mining techniques to extract key information from sources such as patents and public court records to help give them an edge with their case.
Legal documents can be notoriously long and tedious to read through in their entirety. Sometimes all that is required is a concise summary of the overall text to help gain an understanding of its content. Summarization of such documents is possible with NLP, where a defined number of sentences are selected from the main body of text to create, for example, a summary of the top 5 sentences that best reflect the content of the document as a whole.