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Why a robot may be a fairer judge than a human
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Why a robot may be a fairer judge than a human

Posted by Zenobia HegdeJanuary 26, 2016

Late last year, I had the pleasure of being called for jury duty. During the proceedings, where the defendant was accused of armed robbery among other offences, the judge mentioned that there were actually two trials going on. For this one, a jury was being selected, but for the other one, the defendant opted for a judge-only trial.

That got me thinking…if I was ever charged with a major crime where I had the choice, which one would I pick? Would you opt for a trial where you are judged by your peers, whom may be more sympathetic or by a judge, who is supposed to be more partial? How about a third option – a robot? said Larry Bellehumeur, M2M/IoT Consultant at Novotech Technologies.

What brought this up was a recent study in Israel that examined the success rate of parole applications. What they found was staggering….

On average, about 35% of all parole applications are approved. However, in the two hours proceeding lunch, the success rate fell, dipping close to zero for the case that was heard right before lunch. After lunch, the rates spiked to 65% before declining back to the norm about an hour later. So, your chance of getting parole may have had more to do with the judge’s blood sugar level than the merits of your case, or so it seems…

Ok, but it must be that a skilled judge is better than a piece of machinery at determining a lot of things including the chances of a criminal repeating their bad behaviour, right? Sorry to disappoint, but study after study has shown that software programs which incorporate wide varieties of data are far superior to judges and juries when it comes to determining recidivism.

Today’s software programs are also far superior to all but the best legal researchers when it comes to determining precedents that most affect a particular case or set of facts.

“All rise, Robbie the Robot?”

The reality is that this is not likely to happen anytime soon. However, it does make sense that these tools can be used to determine some facts that better allow today’s judicial system to make informed decisions, and at a much faster pace. This would also help clear up some of the backlog that most jurisdictions are seeing in their court systems.

The bottom line

If the world of Big Data / AI can play a role in the legal system, is there any area that is truly safe? At this point, maybe not, but that is not always a bad thing. In many cases, it makes sense to have things be truly impartial, such as in a legal proceeding, and perhaps having a different set of “eyes” look over the facts may make us a better society…as long as the robots do not have to wear the judges’ wigs, as I may not be able to get out of jury duty if I am laughing at the fact that my judge looks like the maid from the Jetsons!

The author of this blog is Larry Bellehumeur, M2M / IoT Consultant, Novotech Technologies

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Zenobia Hegde

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