China’s AI attorney prosecutes crimes ‘with 97% accuracy’

    Scientists in China have programmed artificial intelligence to identify crimes and press charges “with 97% accuracy,” they claim.

    Researchers developed a tool that can assess cases and suggest criminal sentences based on a verbal description, based on a reported 1,000 “traits” sourced from some 17,000 real-life cases from 2015 to 2020, according to the South China Morning Post.

    The lex ex machina has already been tested by China’s largest district prosecution office, the Shanghai Pudong People’s Procuratorate, and proved especially well versed in China’s most common criminal acts, such as gambling, reckless driving, theft and fraud. They hope it will soon come to recognize more complex cases.

    “The system can replace prosecutors in the decision-making process to a certain extent,” said Professor Shi Yong, who led the study, in a statement published by the Management Review journal.

    The use of artificial intelligence in law enforcement has long been criticized by political activists and engineers, alike, who argue that the existing technology isn’t always nuanced enough to do justice — a field that humans themselves have yet to master. Multiple studies have shown AI’s failure to detect hate speech online, or preference for white faces on the screen.

    Despite its apparent weaknesses, machine learning is already being applied in court. Earlier this year, an Associated Press investigation followed an Oklahoma man charged with killing a neighbor based on obscured surveillance video and a proprietary algorithm called ShotSpotter that analyzed noises in the footage — to determine that Williams shot and killed the man.

    ShotSpotter technology is currently used in about 110 American cities and may cost up to $95,000 per square mile of coverage. Yet one study published in April found that local law enforcement isn’t likely getting what they’ve paid for, as one researcher said their research “suggests that the technology does not reduce firearm violence in the long-term, and the implementation of the technology does not lead to increased murder or weapons-related arrests.”

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