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Algorithmization of justice: the public opinion stands divided - 05/10/2039

The question divides the legal world and the civil society quite strongly. And yet it was from the latter that came the idea.

Indeed, since the early 2000s, and most likely influenced by the emergence of artificial intelligence and the world of algorithms, civil society has been increasingly in demand of efficiency. This to the point that at the turn of the years 2010/2020 the modes of totalitarian governance involving infringing on individual freedoms became paragons of political models! Russia, China and India were exposed to populist movements which experienced strong growth during this period.

And it’s not just politics that paid the price. Education, economy and now justice. Everything must be filtered through efficiency: human error is exposed to public vengeance, the slightest deviance becomes a source of rage and “popular judgment” on social networks All this in the name of efficiency: criminals must be tried before even committing a crime as if the world of Steven Spielberg's famous film, “Minority report” had become our daily life.

Faced with this popular wave tending to the cold and immediate efficiency of public institutions, governments have responded to this request. Inspired by the models set up in particular in mainland China, the recent meeting of Pacific justice ministers in Fiji highlighted the willingness of these officials to use artificial intelligence more and more to manage the most common sentences.

Through a regional judicial cooperation fund, the various governments of the region indeed wish to proceed with the acquisition of a system managed by artificial intelligence which would manage most of the everyday offenses and misdemeanors: theft, sexual or physical violence, petty theft or fraud…

But faced with the reality of efficiency, the population began to question, supported in this by many civil rights associations or judges, lawyers and other officers of the judicial service. Because many wonder about the fairness of the system: indeed many important crimes (extortion, embezzlement of public funds) will not be targeted by this artificial intelligence and left to the discretion of the judges. The “two-gears system” has become the rallying cry of opponents of this initiative.

Indeed, politicians and businessmen will necessarily be excluded in the context of these crimes and will be able to negotiate their sentence more easily than the person who will have no choice but to follow the requisitions of artificial intelligence.

How then will governments react to these waves of protests that have sprung up everywhere in recent weeks? Will they move forward on the project or backtrack? For the moment silence from their side ...