What if we ONLY had AI in our courtrooms?
I realize that many will applaud this ousting of emerging technology from U.S. courtrooms. But I disagree. As a matter of fact, I'd like to debate fully AI-enabled courtrooms.
What if we placed ONLY artificial intelligence - prosecution, defense, and juries - in our courtrooms?
Wealth in the United States impacts courtroom outcomes. Those with little financial resources experience higher rates of incarceration and longer sentences.
Data shows that about 88% of defendants with public attorneys are convicted.
Data also shows that as much as 77% of defendants with private attorneys are convicted.
What accounts for this +11% variance that punishes the impoverished?
If decades of courtroom television dramas have taught us anything, it's that the tenure and education of private attorneys often far surpass what comparatively limited public defender budgets provide in legal talent equity. (Yes, this is tongue-in-cheek, but seems a reasonable assumption).
So, if the courtroom expertise of for-hire private attorneys contributes to these statistics, then arming both prosecution and defense with precisely the same AI would lead to more equitable conviction rates.
Is wealth always a courtroom benefit?
In short, no. Activist juries, frustrated by uber-wealthy defendants who flaunt their wealth, have convicted defendants despite insufficient evidence.
If AI is emotionless, these defendants would experience more "fair" outcomes from an AI jury that was trained to only consider the facts.
What impacts would be created?
Highly knowledgeable subject matter experts would inform every component of these AI systems. Instead of actively arguing inside of courtrooms, new roles would be created for trained human legal talent focused on creating truly equitable outcomes through these systems.
Talent diversity for those team members responsible for AI system building, monitoring, and maintenance would be critical. Ensuring that those from every type of diversity were engaged in these systems would elevate the likelihood of equitability of outcomes created by them.
Norms and processes would be challenged. Would defendants need to be physically present in courtrooms or simply have their cases virtually adjudicated? Would we still need massive physical courtroom buildings for taxpayers to fund? Could judges oversee 100x more cases? How could taxpayer-funded public defender budgets be reallocated - perhaps to mental health support? Would the right to a "speedy trial" actually become a reality?
I'm not a legal expert and I certainly don't profess to be one. I recognize that many will be concerned by what I've suggested here. Further, I don't believe that AI is ready for the level of responsibility that I've outlined, and I will only advocate for human + AI scenarios. As we all await the standard technology time-lag for the legal system to catch up to what is already possible with AI, I encourage everyone to rethink what's possible.