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Could a computer replace the role of a judge?

Written by Jessie Hamill-Stewart on 15 August 2017

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Computer Science students from UCL have created a machine which has the ability to understand evidence in a case and make a balanced verdict. The machine can do natural language processing and machine learning. It is an example of artificial intelligence.

It was given 584 cases which were pre-decided by the European Court of Human Rights. These cases were alleged infringements of articles three, six and eight of the European Convention of Human Rights. These were complex cases including issues such as: prohibit torture and inhuman and degrading treatment; one’s right to a fair trial; and one’s right to respect for their private and family life, home and correspondence. The machine reviewed all of these moral, ethical and thoroughly evidence based topics and judged 79% of them the same as the European judges.

For many, the success of this machine questioned the purpose of human judges, particularly at lower level hearings. The Guardian mentions that only the highest and most complex and moral cases could have human judges.

Judge Richard Posner is positive and assures the machine ‘will assist judges in maintaining consistency with their previous decisions’, which brings some fairness to their judgement.

The most important point here is that machines will not take over, they will simply work with humans to make more fair and calculated decisions.

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