The robotic arm of the law

Is the justice system nearing it’s technological transformation? investigates

Since the dawn of the industrial revolution in at the turn of the 1800s, machines have been fundamentally made to aid the human hand and make the life more efficient and easier. Conversely, this rise is fundamentally tainted by the encompassing threat of jobs becoming automated by machines, which has been compounded in the 21st Century with machines likely to take over roles in translating, taxis and most recently, lawyers.

The possibility of a robotic justice system is something that is not far from reality with news of the Case Cruncher program which has proven the role of paralegal, a usual foot in the door for many aspiring solicitors, lawyers and barristers, may become completed automated.

The program, made by four students at the University of Cambridge, was betted against 100 lawyers at top London based law firms with the target of predicting whether the Financial Ombudsman would allow a claim for a mis-sold PPI claim.

Out of 775 cases analysed by man and machine, the AI resoundingly triumphed by predicting 86% of cases correct compared to an average of 66% for the top lawyers. This does not bode well for those wishing to pursue a career in the legal sector considering the results.

Nevertheless, Ian Dodd, one of the two judges selected for the competition, said after the results were delivered that “the information isn’t too complicated”, giving the human race some hope to continuing a human based judiciary as there are fewer factors to consider.

Indeed mis-sold PPI claims are unlikely to have much emotional attachment to the cases that the algorithm may oversee as other judge Cambridge law lecturer Felix Steffek questioned whether AI will, “remain limited to descriptive analysis or whether it will be capable of evaluating rules and events.”

The sophisticated algorithmic mechanism therefore has great promise for the future. However, it remains unlikely that there will be a robotic judge and jury deciding the fate of a man accused of murder, AI will undoubtedly go a long way in streamlining the legal service and perhaps justice system as a whole, which is both a tantalising and, to an extent, frightening prospect.

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