Researchers Create AI Judge To Gavel Through Legal Cases And Render Verdicts

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence technologies is leading to some new and interesting use case scenarios that extend far beyond today's crop of digital assistants such as Siri and Cortana. Underscoring that point is a piece of software developed by computer scientists at University College London that accurately predicts the outcome in actual legal cases.

The software uses an algorithm to analyze legal evidence and issues of morality to predict the outcome of trials, and is pretty accurate at it. In being fed data from 584 cases involving torture and degrading treatment, fair trials and privacy, the AI judge reached the same verdicts as the real life ones at the European court of human rights 79 percent of the time.

What a future AI-powered judge or lawyer might look like

"We don't see AI replacing judges or lawyers, but we think they'd find it useful for rapidly identifying patterns in cases that lead to certain outcomes," said Dr. Nikolaos Aletras, lead researcher on the project. "It could also be a valuable tool for highlighting which cases are most likely to be violations of the European convention on human rights."

Researchers found that the language used along with the topics and circumstances mentioned in the text had proved the most reliable metrics for accurately predicting a decision by the European court of human rights. They also found that verdicts relied more heavily on non-legal facts than strictly legal arguments, which led them to conclude that the court's judges lean more towards being legal theory realists than formalists.

"Previous studies have predicted outcomes based on the nature of the crime or the policy position of each judge, so this is the first time judgments have been predicted using analysis of text prepared by the court, added Dr. Vasileios Lampos, a computer scientist at UCL. "We expect this sort of tool would improve efficiences of high-level, in-demand courts, but, to become a reality, we need to test it against more articles and the case data submitted to the court."

It is an interesting thing to have software predict the outcome of court trials with this level of accuracy. Though the researchers don't see their AI judge replacing real life ones, you have to wonder if that's the inevitable outcome years down the road.