This ‘AI judge’ is predicting the results of human rights cases

A team of researchers in the UK have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) program that can predict the outcome of human rights cases involving torture, degrading treatment, and privacy.

The AI — developed by researchers at University College London (UCL) and the University of Sheffield, alongside Dr Daniel Preoţiuc-Pietro from the University of Pennsylvania — successfully predicted the verdicts for 79% of 584 cases at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

In order to reach a decision, the AI analysed case text using a machine learning algorithm, the researchers said. The algorithm looked for patterns in the text and was able to classify each case either as a “violation” or a “non-violation”. To prevent bias and mislearning, the team selected an equal number of violation and non-violation cases.

Despite their success, the researchers were keen to stress that AI judges aren’t about to demote human judges any time soon.

“We don’t see AI replacing judges or lawyers, but we think they’d find it useful for rapidly identifying patterns in cases that lead to certain outcomes,” said Dr Nikolaos Aletras, who led the study at UCL Computer Science, in a statement. “It could also be a valuable tool for highlighting which cases are most likely to be violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

The team of computer and legal scientists extracted case information published by the ECtHR in their publically accessible database.

“Previous studies have predicted outcomes based on the nature of the crime, or the policy position of each judge, so this is the first time judgments have been predicted using analysis of text prepared by the court,” said co-author, Dr Vasileios Lampos, also from UCL Computer Science, in a statement. “We expect this sort of tool would improve efficiencies of high level, in demand courts, but to become a reality, we need to test it against more articles and the case data submitted to the court.”

Computers are able to perform an increasing amount of human tasks thanks to recent advances in the field of AI. Scientists have also trained algorithms to write stories, drive cars, and detect cancers.

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