Should Robots Prosecute and Defend?
19 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2019 Last revised: 6 Aug 2019
Date Written: January 12, 2019
Even when we achieve the ‘holy grail’ of artificial intelligence—machine intelligence that is at least as smart as a human being in every area of thought—there may be classes of decisions for which it is intrinsically important to retain a human in the loop. On the common account of American criminal adjudication, the role of prosecutor seems to include such decisions given the largely unreviewable declination authority, whereas the role of defense counsel would seem fully susceptible of automation. And even for the prosecutor, the benefits of automation might outweigh the intrinsic decision-making loss, given that the ultimate decision—by judge or jury—should remain a human (or at least role-reversible) one. Thus, while many details need to be worked out, we might within decades have a criminal justice system consisting of robo-defense lawyers and robo-prosecutors. And even if we never do, their consideration provides another lens through which to consider these roles and, ultimately, our criminal justice system.
Keywords: artificial intelligence, automation, criminal justice, adjudication, prosecution, defense
JEL Classification: K14, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation