New technologies are rapidly developing the creation of robots equipped with Artificial Intelligence (AI): a system capable of performing repetitive tasks faster and more accurate than humans.
But robotics is not only being experienced in the industrial sphere but also in unthinkable areas, such as the administration of Justice. Its objective is to streamline some procedures and to eliminate human factors that may condition a sentence.
In the United States of America, there is a growing number of attorneys and judges who solve procedures by using algorithms like ‘Ross’: a program created for researchers at the University of Toronto —based on the IBM Watson— trained to perform certain tasks better than a human jurist. The software can track 10,000 pages per second and include in the result legal mentions, hard-to-access documents, reference studies and the most relevant case law for the trial that lawyers are preparing for. It is also able to examine possible judge’s biases analyzing all of his or her previous decisions in similar cases.
The ‘formalist’ experts, supporters of the application of laws in a totally objective way, affirm that robotic justice is much more just and quick than the current model —which courts are burdened with overflowing caseloads— and is useful to provide a rational and reliable database regardless of the judge’s criteria. From this opinion is Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, professor at the Internet Institute of the University of Oxford.
However, the ‘realists’ believe that the influence of emotions is inevitable and necessary in a judicial process. In this regard, Ian Kerr, researcher at the University of Ottawa, considers that granting the power to decide on a legal case to a machine would be a big mistake because the programs lack the necessary empathy.
Therefore, can an algorithm evaluate a serie of variables and pronounce verdict efficiently? Could the human element be eliminated in a trial? And, most importantly, would people accept being judged by a robot?
In recent years, we have created machines to help us think, but in the not too distant future they will think for us. And this there is no stopping this.