AI can make justice truly blind — but not just yet

“Justice is blind.”

It’s a wonderful concept that represents an even-handed legal system that is impartial and objective in equal measure. But there’s no denying the fact that the justice system is deeply flawed.

So, could Artificial Intelligence provide the answer? Yes, in the end, but not yet.

We can see the problems in the legal system. The courts are jammed with appeals, cases get thrown out on technicalities and each and every day we see outrageous stories of a judge handing down overly lenient or absurdly severe sentences.

Sentences shouldn’t depend on food intake

Sometimes it seems that people’s lives are decided on the basis of a judge’s mood and there’s a running joke among lawyers that justice depends on what the judge ate for breakfast.

One famous study of Israeli judges in 2009 revealed that a judge is actually more likely to be lenient after a break. In fact, it found a 65 percent probability of a lenient ruling at the start of the day, which then declined until lunch, before hitting 65 percent again directly after lunch.

Justice should not depend on the time of day your hearing occurs. So, surely, it’s a matter of urgency to replace human judges with AI that won’t make decisions based on the fact that it is hungry?

AI judges could also help clear the backlog of cases that are threatening to drown the American legal system. Plea bargains are becoming increasingly common, too. That can mean dangerous criminals avoid jail altogether and reoffend, purely because of a logjam at the courthouse.

This is no way to run a legal system.

AI is already helping bail hearings

Even in the simplest case of deciding whether to grant bail, one study by the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that an AI judge could help reduce jail populations by 42 percent and actually cut crime by up to 24 percent.

In New Jersey, that’s already happening. If a defendant meets certain criteria, they are granted bail…

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