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Can a robot be a judge?

  1. May 6, 2013 #1
    Feed all the laws into it and the robot and let the robot make unbiased judgements. Are human feelings necessary for a good court judgement?

    At least the first level judgement could be by a computer. If there is a dispute, it could be escalated to a higher human judge. Thoughts?
     
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  3. May 6, 2013 #2
    Feelings are not needed, but from the cases I've heard of, it appears that judges make many considerations when making a judgement. These considerations are within the law for the judge to use, but a computer may not be so good at reasoning when to make such considerations.
     
  4. May 6, 2013 #3

    berned_you

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    Are you also implying we get rid of juries? Just curious as juries play a major role in our judicial system.

    Laws are rarely black and white in their interpretation. That is why we have lawyers. Words used in laws can be interpreted in different ways and typically this is done by argument and by interpreting how those words have been analyzed in other fact scenarios. Putting all this together is not analogous to applying an algorithm. That's why science majors often have a difficult time in law school because there is no such thing as a right answer. This is difficult to fully grasp even if you keep telling yourself there's no right answer over and over again.

    In addition, the law evolves over time and this is beneficial and necessary. If a robot is applying the law, the outcome will never change or evolve. It's hard to draft a perfect law that includes all scenarios and predicts all outcomes. We need the law to evolve to adapt for changes in technology and society... and to correct "mistakes" in how the law has previously been applied.
     
  5. May 6, 2013 #4

    Ryan_m_b

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    Judgement requires an understanding of the minds of those involved in order to assess their truthfulness, their motivations and the extent to which they are a threat to society. Thus it is an AI-complete problem so no a computer cannot do it.

    Other than that I don't really follow this idea. How exactly would a computer perform the work of a judge using a database of laws? Take the example of someone up for murder who is claiming self-defence, how would a computer weigh the evidence and judge the accused's character?
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  6. May 6, 2013 #5
    Software upgrade :)
     
  7. May 6, 2013 #6

    micromass

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    I think there is always going to a dispute in that case :rofl:
     
  8. May 6, 2013 #7

    Ben Niehoff

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    The law does not strictly spell everything out to the very last detail. Judges are needed to actually make judgments in how to apply the law. There is often room for interpretation.
     
  9. May 6, 2013 #8

    Ryan_m_b

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    It occurs to me that this isn't really a question about computers. They could easily be replaced with "flow chart" and it would amount to the same thing. The reason is that the list of things a judge is required to do is huge and like many human faculties difficult to codify (as in "represent coherently in text" rather than computer code). Rather than write down every opposable variable of a case and what the appropriate punishment is its easier to train Jude's, let them judge based on what laws are written down and their own intelligence/experience and build up the law case by case.
     
  10. May 6, 2013 #9

    fluidistic

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    That's a good question.
    IMO in many countries the level of corruption is so high that a robot would do a better job than a judge. I don't think humans feeling are necessary for a good court judgement.
    Slightly off topic but still related: I believe that robots could give a more accurate diagnostic than doctors when it comes to identify illness in humans.
     
  11. May 6, 2013 #10
    It is less applicable for criminal cases. I still see a scope for civil cases.

    It's an AI-complete problem, but so is image recognition. Still Google is able to make driver-less cars.
     
  12. May 6, 2013 #11

    wukunlin

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    There is also a problem with people not implementing them even if they are more effective.

    Look at something much more trivial than the court room: On professional baseball fields, human umpire miss calls pretty much every single game (sometimes every second pitch...) and the slightest suggestions of robotic umpires are met with a firm "NO."

    I can't imagine in a court room where the rules are less defined and much more than games are at stake won't be met with more opposition.
     
  13. May 6, 2013 #12
    Yea, but people say "NO" to robot judges in baseball because the umpire creates an addional factor of human error into the game which makes every game interesting. Sometimes you catch a break from an umpire's error, and sometimes you get hosed. It's part of the game, and most people wouldn't want to see that go away.

    I'm sure if we could get rid of error in the court room while maintaining fair and appropriate sentences (and, when appropriate, leniency) many people would be all for the idea. There would of course be many others who would disagree with the idea of a programmed machine dishing out sentences. Who gets to determine whether or not the computer is calibrated properly? The way I see it there would be endless lawsuits and appeals for people who've been sentenced by the machine.

    I'm not sure about this one. With current technology? Obviously not. I'm not sure how much empathy a robot program would need to dish out appropriate punishments, and whether or not it's better to keep the human judge who, though fallable, can base his judgement on both the law and on the intricacies of the human condition, given the information provided.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  14. May 6, 2013 #13

    micromass

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    I know people say this a lot. But I consider this to be a very bad reason. If a team loses a game that they deserved to win, then there is something wrong.
     
  15. May 6, 2013 #14

    Office_Shredder

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    Let's not be too biased against humans here

    Umpires make more than 99% of non strike/ball calls correctly
    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/...ement-mlb-umpires-call-995-of-plays-correctly

    MLB also says according to their tracking system (comparing umpire calls to a camera's prediction of strike or ball) umpires get pitches called correctly 95% of the time
    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120828&content_id=37468304&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb
     
  16. May 7, 2013 #15

    berned_you

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    Why do you believe criminal cases differ from civil cases? Also, I believe of lot of these responses indicate a lack of understanding with respect to the extent of what a judge does.

    How can a robot decide on a motion hearing to compel discovery of a specific document? This is entirely fact specific and ultimately is a judgement call. There is never a "right answer", only a determination based on arguments, law and facts which vary immensely from case to case.

    Also, how is a robot going to determine if an expert's opinion is admissible or not as evidence? Again, this is an entirely fact specific inquiry and the decision is a determination for which there is no "right answer."

    I could go on but hopefully I've made my point.
     
  17. May 7, 2013 #16

    jim hardy

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    I thought that's the reason for trial by jury - to introduce human judgement.

    Melville's "Billy Budd" I took to be a critique of machine-like rigor in procedure.
    Capt Vere regretted the decision on his deathbed.
     
  18. May 7, 2013 #17

    Office_Shredder

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    Arguments, facts and law all have nothing to do with the judge - they come from external sources. If you believe every judge should, ideally, make the same judgement call when seated in the exact same position, then if the technology existed a robot could sit in the room and take as input the arguments, laws and facts to produce the same judgement call. If you believe that the motion passing or not should differ based solely on the judge, then you would not want a robot in the courtroom ever.
     
  19. May 7, 2013 #18

    Ryan_m_b

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    The technology does not exist. Computers cannot evaluate the type of facts needed so to plug them in requires a human to interpret them at some point.
     
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