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Chinese scientists develop AI ‘prosecutor’ with 97% accuracy rate

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Researchers in China claim to have developed a machine that can charge people with crimes using artificial intelligence, which they claim is a world first.

According to the researchers, the AI “prosecutor” can file a charge with greater than 97 percent accuracy based on a verbal description of the case.

The Shanghai Pudong People’s Procuratorate, the country’s largest and busiest district prosecution office, designed and tested the machine.

According to Professor Shi Yong, director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ big data and knowledge management laboratory, who is also the project’s lead scientist, the technology could reduce prosecutors’ daily workload, allowing them to focus on more difficult tasks.

"To some extent, the system can replace prosecutors in the decision-making process," Shi and his colleagues wrote in a paper published in the domestic peer-reviewed journal Management Review this month.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being used in law enforcement around the world.

To improve case processing speed and accuracy, some German prosecutors have used AI technology such as image recognition and digital forensics.

When China’s prosecutors began using AI in 2016, they were early adopters. Many of them now use System 206, an artificial intelligence tool.

The tool can assess the strength of evidence, the conditions for an arrest, and the public danger posed by a suspect.

But, according to Shi and colleagues, all existing AI tools have a limited role because “they do not participate in the decision-making process of filing charges and [suggesting] sentences.”

Making such decisions would necessitate a machine identifying and removing any contents of a case file that are unrelated to the crime while leaving the useful information intact.

In addition, the machine would have to translate complex, ever-changing human language into a standard mathematical or geometric format that a computer could comprehend.

China’s internet companies have developed powerful natural language processing tools, but their operation frequently necessitates the use of large computers, which prosecutors do not have.

Shi’s team developed an AI prosecutor that could run on a desktop computer. It would file a charge against each suspect based on 1,000 “traits” extracted from the human-generated case description text, the majority of which are too small or abstract for humans to understand. The evidence would then be evaluated by System 206.

Between 2015 and 2020, the machine was “trained” on over 17,000 cases. It has so far been able to identify and prosecute Shanghai’s eight most common crimes.

Credit card fraud, running a gambling operation, reckless driving, intentional injury, obstructing official duties, theft, fraud, and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a catch-all charge frequently used to stifle dissent, are among them.

According to Shi and colleagues, the AI prosecutor will soon gain more power as a result of upgrades. It would be capable of identifying less common crimes and filing multiple charges against a single suspect.

It was unclear when or if the technology would be applied to other fields. When the report was released, the team could not be reached for comment.

A prosecutor in Guangzhou, China’s southernmost city, expressed reservations about using AI to file charges.

"The 97 percent accuracy may be high from a technological standpoint, but there is always the possibility of a mistake," said the prosecutor, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. "Will the prosecutor, the machine, or the algorithm's designer bear responsibility if something goes wrong?"

The autonomy of a human prosecutor could be harmed if AI is directly involved in decision-making. According to the Guangzhou-based prosecutor, most prosecutors did not want computer scientists “interfering” with a legal decision.

Another problem is that an AI prosecutor could file a charge solely based on its prior experience. In a changing social environment, it couldn’t predict how the public would react to a case.

"AI may aid in the detection of errors, but it cannot take the place of humans in making decisions," the prosecutor stated.

Nonetheless, China is aggressively implementing artificial intelligence (AI) in nearly every government sector in an attempt to improve efficiency, reduce corruption, and strengthen control.

According to researchers involved, some Chinese cities have used machines to monitor government employees’ social circles and activities in order to detect corruption.

AI has been used by many Chinese courts to assist judges in processing case files and making decisions such as whether to accept or reject an appeal.

The majority of Chinese prisons have also implemented AI technology to track inmates’ physical and mental well-being in order to reduce violence.

REFERENCE/S: 
'More than 97% accuracy': Chinese scientists develop AI 'prosecutor'|The Korea Times

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