The Impact of an AI-driven Court: Advantages, Disadvantages, and What it Means for Society

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The recent launch of ChatGPT has sparked renewed debates on the intersection of AI, society, and regulations. As AI increasingly becomes an integral part of our daily lives through technologies like automated vehicles, facial recognition, and smart assistants, discussions about AI’s role in society and its boundaries have shifted from a hypothetical future to a current reality. 

The reactions to the widespread use of ChatGPT reminded us of how controversial the presence of AI in society can be, from some countries implementing lengthy assessments to detect the use of it in schooling to Italy’s approach of banning the tool altogether. These reactions made it clear that society has yet to accept AI entirely. 

As a law student, it is clear that the presence of ChatGPT and other AI tools will impact the future career of lawyers. While the development of AI in other avenues of society is extensively discussed, the impact AI tools will have on the legal sphere has not been explored to the same extent.

Regarding the legal sphere, the development of AI tools to optimise legal processes has sparked polarising opinions. This article explores the implications of using AI in the justice system, questioning its impact and potential compromises to the field of justice in a democratic society based on the rule of law.

Quantitative Legal Prediction: A Prominent Development

One intriguing phenomenon in the field of legal analytics is Quantitative Legal Prediction. This emerging field has the potential to automate lawyers’ daily work by advising clients on their legal situations and providing insights into the potential outcomes of their choices. Predictive models can identify patterns in legal decisions, shedding light on past cases and guiding decision-making.

Existing Examples of AI Tools in Legal Analytics

Several AI tools based on Quantitative Legal Prediction have already been developed and implemented in certain jurisdictions. These tools include:

  1. COMPAS (Correctional Offender Management for Alternative Sanctions): A decision support tool used to assess the likelihood of recidivism in criminal defendants. It employs a 137-question survey and has been utilised in several U.S. states, such as New York and California.
  2. HART (Harm Assessment Risk Tool): Developed by the University of Cambridge, it indicates the risk of reoffending using an algorithm called Random Forests. This tool considers a criminal defendant’s reoffending history, age, gender, geographical area, and 104,000 histories of previously arrested individuals. It has been used in the UK.
  3. Case Law Analytics: A French legal tech company that developed an application to present and qualify different possible outcomes of a given case based on existing case law. This tool can be particularly useful in civil law, improving litigation and contract negotiation.
  4. PROMETEA: A virtual assistant developed and used in Argentina and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. This AI tool checks virtual file requirements, identifies procedural deadlines, and can generate draft judgments for simpler cases, such as administrative law, tax law, and misdemeanours, by linking them to cases with similar characteristics.

Advantages of AI Tools in the Legal Sphere

AI tools offer notable advantages in legal procedures. By automating tasks such as legal research and document drafting, these tools enhance efficiency, allowing lawyers to focus on higher-level tasks. The resulting increase in efficiency also lowers litigation costs and other legal procedures, ultimately improving access to justice. Consequently, AI tools promote greater equality before the law.

Disadvantages and Ethical Concerns

Despite their advantages, AI tools in the legal sphere present practical disadvantages and ethical considerations. One significant concern is the potential bias ingrained in AI algorithms. Since these algorithms learn from human-generated data, biases inherent in that data can be perpetuated, leading to unfair outcomes. Additionally, the lack of algorithmic transparency makes identifying and addressing bias a challenging task. Another disadvantage lies in the inevitable errors AI tools may make in judgement. When assessing a criminal defendant’s risk solely based on statistics rather than considering individual circumstances, some inaccuracies are likely to occur. However, it is worth noting that human judgement is also susceptible to making incorrect judgments.

Future Implications and Ethical Dilemmas

The wider implementation of AI in the legal profession raises uncertain ethical and societal implications. Society must grapple with questions about the delegation of legal tasks to machines without human judgement and discretion. Is the value of human involvement being diminished in favour of quick, (perhaps) accurate but completely dehumanised answers?

Wider Ramifications 

In conclusion, the rise of AI has sparked debates about its role in society and its impact on the legal sphere. The development of AI tools, such as Quantitative Legal Prediction, shows potential for automating legal tasks and improving efficiency in the legal process. These tools have advantages, including increased access to justice and cost reduction. However, there are practical disadvantages to consider. AI tools can perpetuate biases present in human-generated data, and their lack of transparency makes it challenging to identify and address such biases. Additionally, relying solely on statistical analysis for judgment may lead to errors.

As AI becomes more prevalent in the legal profession, careful consideration of ethics, transparency, and regulation is necessary to ensure a balance between efficiency and the preservation of justice and fairness. While AI has immense advantages in legal research and analytics, many remain skeptical about its involvement in the legal system. One must, however, consider that the same fears and apprehensions were present when the internet was new as with AI tools today. 

It is clear that society is progressing into a new age, where the use of AI tools will become an integral part of all of society’s functions, including the legal sphere. Considering the magnitude of repetitive work that a lawyer’s job entails, there is space for AI in the legal sphere as a lawyer’s assistant to handle easier tasks. While countries are limiting the use of and banning ChatGPT, recently, a judge from Cartagena Colombia has admitted to using the AI tool when making a ruling on a case regarding the medical care of a child, showing us that this new age has already arrived. 

By: Aydan Latifi

Photography: Markus Spiske

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