Having Your Day in Robot Court

37 Pages Posted: 10 May 2021 Last revised: 17 Oct 2021

See all articles by Benjamin Minhao Chen

Benjamin Minhao Chen

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law

Alexander Stremitzer

ETH Zurich

Kevin Tobia

Georgetown University Law Center; Georgetown University - Department of Philosophy

Date Written: May 7, 2021


Should machines be judges? Some balk at this possibility, holding that ordinary citizens would see a robot-led legal proceeding as procedurally unfair: To have your “day in court” is to have a human hear and adjudicate your claims. Two original experiments assess whether laypeople share this intuition. We discover that laypeople do, in fact, see human judges as fairer than artificially intelligent (“AI”) robot judges: All else equal, there is a perceived human-AI “fairness gap.” However, it is also possible to eliminate the fairness gap. The perceived advantage of human judges over AI judges is related to perceptions of accuracy and comprehensiveness of the decision, rather than “softer” and more distinctively human factors. Moreover, the study reveals that laypeople are amenable to “algorithm offsetting.” Adding an AI hearing and increasing the AI interpretability reduces the perceived human-AI fairness gap. Ultimately, the results support a common challenge to robot judges: there is a concerning human-AI fairness gap. Yet, the results also indicate that the strongest version of this challenge — human judges have inimitable procedural fairness advantages — is not reflected in the views of laypeople. In some circumstances, people see a day in robot court as no less fair than day in human court.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, procedural justice, courts, judges, algorithms

Suggested Citation

Chen, Benjamin Minhao and Stremitzer, Alexander and Tobia, Kevin, Having Your Day in Robot Court (May 7, 2021). UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 21-20, University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2021/020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3841534

Benjamin Minhao Chen (Contact Author)

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Alexander Stremitzer

ETH Zurich ( email )

Haldeneggsteig 4
Zurich, Zurich 8092

HOME PAGE: http://https://laweconbusiness.ethz.ch/group/professor/stremitzer.html

Kevin Tobia

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.georgetown.edu/faculty/kevin-tobia/

Georgetown University - Department of Philosophy

37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
United States

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