Automating Fairness? Artificial Intelligence in the Chinese Courts

40 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2022

See all articles by Rachel E. Stern

Rachel E. Stern

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Jurisprudence & Social Policy; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Benjamin L. Liebman

Columbia University - Law School

Margaret E. Roberts

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - 21st Century China Center

Alice Wang

Columbia Law School

Date Written: August 1, 2021

Abstract

How will surging global interest in data analytics and artificial intelligence transform the day-to-day operations of courts, and what are the implications for judicial power? In the last five years, Chinese courts have come to lead the world in their efforts to deploy automated pattern analysis to monitor judges, standardize decision-making, and observe trends in society. This article chronicles how and why Chinese courts came to embrace artificial intelligence, making public tens of millions of court judgments in the process. Although technology is certainly being used to strengthen social control and boost the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party, examining recent developments in the Chinese courts complicates common portrayals of China as a rising exemplar of digital authoritarianism. Data are incomplete, and algorithms are often untested.

The rise of algorithmic analytics also risks negative consequences for the Chinese legal system itself, including increased inequality among court users, new blind spots in the state’s ability to see and track its own officials and citizens, and diminished judicial authority. Other jurisdictions grappling with how to integrate artificial intelligence into the legal system are likely to confront similar dynamics. Framed broadly, our goal is to push the nascent literature on courts, data analytics, and artificial intelligence to consider the political implications of technological change. In particular, recent developments in China’s courts offer a caution that two powerful trends—ascendant interest in algorithmic governance and worldwide assaults on judicial authority—could be intertwined.

Suggested Citation

Stern, Rachel E. and Liebman, Benjamin L. and Roberts, Margaret E. and Wang, Alice, Automating Fairness? Artificial Intelligence in the Chinese Courts (August 1, 2021). Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, No. 59, 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4026798

Rachel E. Stern (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Jurisprudence & Social Policy ( email )

School of Law
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-2150
United States

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

Benjamin L. Liebman

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

Margaret E. Roberts

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - 21st Century China Center ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive #0519
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

Alice Wang

Columbia Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
67
Abstract Views
384
rank
453,319
PlumX Metrics