Prima facie, the case for using artificial intelligence (AI) as an aide to judges is on solid grounds. In the judiciary, save for landmark decisions that break new ground, a majority of litigation is decided on the basis of stare decisis, or the doctrine of legal precedent. In that sense, the use of AI should be a no-brainer, with machine learning algorithms obviously able to scan and sift through a lot more – potentially unlimited – historical data to arrive at a dispassionate view. The UAE has taken the first monumental steps by allowing Abu Dhabi judges to use the help of AI in sentencing – or acquitting – criminals.
Businesses – especially retail – have been using machine-based learning for a while to study and predict customer behaviour. Law enforcement authorities, including Dubai Police, are investing resources to leverage AI in order to predict crime, traffic congestion and accidents besides using facial recognition and other tech solutions to counter threats and boost security. There is, therefore, every reason to believe that AI will prove to be a great enabler in jurisprudence and the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department is showing how it can help in reducing the time it takes to study the available evidence to arrive at a fair decision.
Interestingly, AI can prove to be a boon in deciding cases in countries like India and China, where there is a huge backlog of cases that remain undecided for long, at times decades, owing to a lack of judges and infrastructure. It isn’t just fact-finding that benefits from AI intervention – it can also help eliminate human bias while deciding on routine cases. The fact is that humans can be emotionally swayed or could have a bad day at work or be tired or miss out on a certain angle of the case due to a variety of other reasons – something that a robot won’t. Therefore, when it comes to deciding on routine cases – petty thefts, traffic accidents, etc. – AI can do a much faster job than humans.
What about landmark cases, though, where precedent needs to be set and you need the ‘human’ intelligence to do so? Will AI ever reach that level of intelligence? The jury is still out on that.