Since at least 2016, China has been creating a “smart court” system, intending to improve the “fairness, efficiency, and credibility” of its judges. Now, China is using AI to correct court rulings forcing judges to submit a written explanation to the machine if they disagree.
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By suggesting laws, drafting documents, and alerting judges to “perceived human errors” in verdicts, China is employing artificial intelligence to “improve” its judicial system.
In a report on the system released this week, Beijing’s Supreme Court stated that judges must now formally consult the AI on every case, and if they choose to deviate from its decision, they must provide a written justification.
Additionally, the AI has been given access to police databases and China’s Orwellian social credit system, giving it the authority to penalize individuals, including by immediately listing a thief’s property for sale online.
Beijing has praised the new technology for “a significant contribution to the judicial advancement of human civilisation,” but critics claim it runs the risk of ushering in a time when machines govern the planet.
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Since Chief Justice Qiang Zhou called for the use of technology to enhance the “fairness, efficiency, and credibility” of the legal system at least as far back as 2016, China has begun constructing a “smart court” system.
This required installing robotic receptionists in courthouses to provide online legal assistance, automatic voice recognition recorders in courtrooms to do away with transcription needs, and “virtual courtrooms” where cases could be heard online.
A highly specialized “internet court” that only handles cases involving the virtual world, like online loans, domain name disputes, and copyright issues, has even been established in China.
It has resulted in the development of sizable databases into which data on every case is uploaded at a rate of approximately 100,000 per day.
In order to learn from these cases and then generate judgments and suggestions for new laws based on what it discovers, artificial intelligence has now been integrated into such databases.
This implies the AI is now making choices on behalf of judges who must explain themselves if they want to override it instead of just gathering facts.
The South China Morning Post says that an AI prosecutor has even begun charging individuals in Shanghai with crimes it thinks they are responsible for.
Additionally, by integrating the AI with China’s social credit system, it will be able to punish offenders, such as preventing them from buying train or airline tickets if they refuse to pay a fine.
Professor of law at the China University of Political Science and Law, Zhang Linghan, cautioned that the rapid development of AI raises the possibility of a future in which machines reign over people.
In a document that was recently posted online, she asserted that “humans will gradually lose free will with an increasing dependency on technology.”
She continued, “we must be alert to the erosion of judicial power by technology companies and capital.”