Why I’m Not Worried My Job Will be Taken Over by a Robot

February 2018

A recent article entitled, ‘Is artificial intelligence the future of immigration in Canada?’ describes an upcoming computer program that will be the ‘best artificially and emotionally intelligent virtual immigration advisor in Canada’.  It will work as an ‘AI-based chatbot’, which will help immigration applicants complete the required forms.  It promises to slash the costs associated with coming to Canada. 

I had a look at their website.  It’s not yet fully functional, as the product has yet to launch.  Clearly, a lot of hard work by some very smart people has gone into the development of the concept, and it has the capacity to aid many people. 

Am I worried my livelihood is at stake due to competition from this new technology? Not at all.  Because very little of what I do is helping people fill out application forms.

Recently, I had a couple book a consultation appointment. They were planning on doing a spousal sponsorship.  They said they’d already looked at the forms, and they had a few questions about the process.  Maybe some of these would have been questions the new chatbot could have answered.  But, by the end of our hour together, they still didn’t have the answers to those questions.  That’s because within a few minutes of our meeting, I concluded that this couple shouldn’t be doing a spousal sponsorship application at all.  The spouse who was to be sponsored was American.  She had a Master’s degree and worked in communications.  She was young.  Her Express Entry points would likely be high enough to secure her an invitation to apply for permanent residency in Canada.  In contrast, the spousal sponsorship application would be complicated by the fact that her Canadian spouse was unemployed and receiving government disability benefits.  A skilled worker application would likely be processed more quickly, with less preparatory work required. So, while a chatbot could very well help you with completing forms, it can’t tell you what application you should be submitting. 

A lot of what we do as immigration lawyers is traditional advocacy work. We request reconsideration of denied applications, and when pushed into corners, fight for our clients in court.  We craft humanitarian and compassionate submissions for clients who do not meet the requirements of traditional immigration programs.  We hold the hands of clients as they sob, telling us how they’ve been beaten and raped, and then we prepare their refugee claims. 

None of this is work that can be done by a chatbot. I love my job, and I’m proud of the way I touch people’s lives.  I have no concerns that lawyers will go extinct any time soon.