While many of the articles and judicial opinions are never cited, a system can be established to build summaries of those that are. The idea is straightforward- harvest sentences just before the citation in academic articles citing the article of interest. One can learn from the summaries of the articles citing the articles, or from the summaries of other co-cited articles. The framework can be applied to judicial opinions, and to tally positions by politicians/institutions over a topic, etc.
This form of “summarization” utilizes intellectual work done by others, and allows for tracking major rebuttals and weaknesses identified by others. On the downside, summarization is necessarily limited to points made by others. Either way, the method is likely to produce superior results than methods that harvest ‘topic sentences’ etc.
Update: In 2015, I released the first draft of autosum.