In terms of architecture and functions, expert systems and filing assistants are often indistinguishable. In these cases, it’s easy to conclude they’re the same. In areas like justice, the differences are insignificant. In the future, they’ll vanish altogether.
There may be differences around how we use these tools. Expert systems use expert knowledge to reason about problems in a domain and filing assistants help people fill or successfully file forms. Yet, even from an applied perspective, they cross over.
Expert systems help people make decisions about a problem or issue within a specific domain. Some of these decisions may lead to action.
Filing assistants (also sometimes called document assembly software) tend to focus on the completion of a form that must be used to take action.
For things like court, where forms are fetishized, a filing assistant performs the important functions of:
- helping a non-expert user select the right form
- enabling the user to understand what information must be included in the form
- putting the user’s information in a required format
- qualifying or disqualifying the user from using a form based on their circumstances or input
- successfully filing or submitting the form
Some filing assistants will also make extra attempts to improve usability by making the questions conversational or adding anthropomorphic guides.
It’s common for expert systems and filing assistants to elicit input using questions. In the process of answering questions to complete a form, the user will benefit from expert guidance, and may make decisions about their best course of action.
Figuring out the difference between expert systems and filing assistants isn’t very important in an applied context. In a new process, the most important questions related to system design and implementation. In an existing process, especially one that’s form-centric, it may be easier to see the value of a filing assistant over an expert system.
In the end, both approaches have great potential to add value and support non expert users.