Tuesday, September 13, 2005


In an article in the Boston Globe author Drake Bennett explores the possibilities of artificial intelligence robots acting as lawyers or judges.
This may seem far fetched but lawyers and the public are already using software to help them with legal issues.
The article gives examples of positive effects and opportunities of robot law but does not address the potential downside. Software would be too tempting for sneaky abuse. What would the legal robot do when it knew that it's client was trying to get around the law with deception and legal obfuscation?

In the last few years, as a number of studies, and even a few commercially available products, have set out to demonstrate how our increasingly powerful computers can assist in the practice of law, the computer scientists and legal scholars who work in this small, emerging field believe they are doing something revolutionary: making the legal system more transparent, more efficient, and more fair.

The computer scientists John Zeleznikow of the University of Melbourne and Andrew Stranieri of the University of Ballarat, for example, have developed two pieces of legal software currently in use in their native Australia. One, SplitUp, calculates with impressive accuracy the likely results of divorce proceedings--its effect has been to encourage settlements, thus preventing unnecessary litigation.

Much of the work done by lawyers is the application of relatively straightforward statutes or the drafting or relatively standard documents, tasks that Zeleznikow and other similarly minded programmers believe can easily be handled by today's AI.

One current area of interest for programmers, according to Northeastern's Hafner, is designing programs that could not only draft contracts but enforce them: ''If the contract is represented in computer-understandable terms and the transactions take place online," she says, ''there is the idea that the computer could monitor compliance."

Robo-justice - The Boston Globe
via robots.net


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