Ambrogi writes for Lex Blog, “Was this the same ROSS Intelligence that I’d wondered and speculated about?”
For years, the artificial-intelligence legal research company maintained a shroud of secrecy around its product. Sure, they talked about it plenty. They garnered lots of media coverage. And CEO Andrew Arruda was a ubiquitous presence at legal conferences, touting the future of AI in law.
But when it came to seeing the product, that was another story. I’d pestered Arruda for years to let me review it, without success. At a conference of law librarians two years ago, Arruda was called out during a panel for his company’s lack of transparency. Surely somebody must have been seeing ROSS, because law firms were reportedly buying it. But, if so, I had trouble finding them.
Now here I was, on Thursday and Friday last week, sitting in ROSS’s Toronto research and development office, with unfettered access to its entire engineering and design teams. I was given detailed demonstrations of the product’s inner workings. I was invited to sit in on engineering and UX team meetings. I was encouraged to ask any question I wanted, of anyone I wanted to ask it.
And that shroud of secrecy around its product? ROSS had shredded it. In June, without fanfare, ROSS quietly changed its website to offer free trials of its product to anyone. The product that had been treated as if it were a state secret was now open to everyone for a 14-day free trial, without requiring even a credit card.
So what is going on here? The answer to that question starts with a look back at the company’s history.