Expert on impact of AI on law to speak at UNSW Allens Hub event

December 5, 2018

Expert on impact of AI on law to speak at UNSW Allens Hub event

In 2013, a man in Wisconsin, US, was arrested for attempting to flee a police officer and driving a car used in a recent shooting.

While none of his crimes mandated prison time, the judge in the case said the man had a high risk of recidivism and sentenced him to six years prison.

The judge had considered a report from a controversial computer program called COMPAS, a risk assessment tool developed by a private company.

The example, according to Research Professor at Vrije Universiteit, Brussels, Mireille Hildebrandt, is a reason why lawyers need to collaborate with computer scientists on using artificial intelligence (AI) in law.

“We need constructive distrust, rather than naïve trust in ‘legal tech’,” she says.

“This certainly involves reconsidering the use of potentially skewed discriminatory patterns, as with the COMPAS software that informs courts in the US when taking decisions on parole or sentencing.”

The Research Professor on Interfacing Law and Technology at Vrije Universiteit’s Faculty of Law and Criminology will discuss the impact of AI on law in her inaugural lecture for The Allens Hub for Technology, Law & Innovation on December 13.

She says researchers say there is evidence the COMPAS program is discriminating against black offenders.

“Though researchers agree that based on the data they are more likely to commit future crimes than white offenders, this caused a bug in the outcome regarding black offenders that do not recidivise,” Professor Hildebrandt says.

“They are attributed a higher reoffending rate than white offenders that never recidivise.”

“COMPAS has given rise to a new kind of discussion about bias in sentencing, and once lawyers begin to engage in informed discussion about ‘fairness’ in ‘legal tech’ they may actually inspire more precise understandings of how fairness can be improved in the broader context of legal decision-making,” Professor Hildebrandt says.

Professor Hildebrandt’s research interests concern the implications of automated decision, machine learning and mindless artificial agency for law and the Rule of Law in constitutional democracies.

Recently nominated as ‘one of 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics

/Public Release.