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A "fairer" justice system? Maybe AI can help with that

Where do we see AI going now? Apparently in the courtroom, according to mathematician Cathy O’Neil: the justice system is an area that can highly benefit from artificial intelligence. But how? Let us count the ways. 

In her discussion with The Guardian through their podcast Chips With Everything, O'Neill shares, “Once we make sure that these algorithms are fair, they will actually be better than the humans that they replace. Judges in the justice system are famously racist, so once we have algorithms that help judges be more fair and they’re actually useful, they’re fair themselves, that will be an improvement. So there’s actually a lot of potential for living the Big Data dream. Right now we’re not there. I’m sounding the alarm ‘Hey!’, we can’t assume that we’re doing everything perfectly just because we’re using algorithms, but that isn’t to say can we do a lot better than what we’re doing now.”

On a high level, AI is seen to somehow make the process more efficient as we feed computers with more and more data on past cases, testimonies, witness and defendant profiles, and things as such. “Predictive policing” (Minority Report, anyone?) is also something being looked at on the law enforcement side. Microsoft is actually creating an app that almost accurately (around 91%) predicts recidivism of prison inmates. But basically what AI is trying to do is taking out the emotion and discrimination that usually goes into the judgment/trial process, and highly taking into account historical data to predict relevant patterns. Because the lesser the bias the fairer the judgment … right?

The goal in the short term is to start reducing algorithmic flaws, but how do we do that when we’re still designing for the “token white guy”? A more diverse group of designers and engineers I would say is the key, as AI reflects the values of the people who created it, but that’s a discussion for another time. 

I think it would just be fair to say that in any industry driven by data, computing always has a big role to play. With AI and analytics firm such as Premonition paving the way in this area, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this kind of progress.

(Photo: iamag.co)

Once we make sure that these algorithms are fair, they will actually be better than the humans that they replace. Judges in the justice system are famously racist, so once we have algorithms that help judges be more fair and they’re actually useful, they’re fair themselves, that will be an improvement.

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