AI on trial run in court

Road to justice: (From second right) Attorney General Tommy Thomas, Wong, Tengku Maimun and other judiciary officials walking to the Kuching Court Complex for the opening of the legal year in Sabah and Sarawak. — Bernama

KUCHING: An artificial intelligence (AI) application to determine appropriate sentences for certain criminal offences will be used in a pilot project by the courts in Sabah and Sarawak.

Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri David Wong said data analysis by the AI application would serve as a guideline to judicial officers in deciding on sentences.

He said this was aimed at improving efficiency and ensuring consistency in sentencing.

“Every time the court passes a sentence, there are always complaints that there is disparity or inconsistency.

“With this, hopefully, we will have consistent sentences being meted out by the court, and not one magistrate giving a fine and another giving two years’ imprisonment,” he said during a demonstration of the AI application after the opening of the legal year in Sabah and Sarawak here yesterday.

The AI pilot project will be used for two offences – drug possession under Section 12 of the Dangerous Drugs Act and rape under Section 376 of the Penal Code.

The application will analyse data for these offences gathered from cases registered in Sabah and Sarawak from 2014 to 2019.

It will also analyse relevant information and parameters, such as the age of the accused, type and weight of drugs in cases of drug possession or age of victim and whether hurt was caused in rape offences, to come up with a recommended sentence.

Wong said the judiciary was now in the process of creating ground rules for the use of the application, including making known to the accused and their lawyers what the likely sentences would be if they chose to plead guilty.

He said the rules should be ready in a week or so.

Chief Justice Tan Sri Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said it was timely for the judiciary to move along with technological advancement.

“I don’t see a reason why we should not embark on this. But of course we cannot rely 100% on technology, so there must be a human element as well.

“This is a pilot project and as we go along, we’ll see how it needs to be improved or otherwise,” she said.

Currently, courts and corrections departments around the United States use algorithms to determine a defendant’s “risk”, which ranges from the probability that an individual will commit another crime to the likelihood a defendant will appear for his or her court date.

These algorithmic outputs inform decisions about bail, sentencing, and parole. Each tool aspires to improve on the accuracy of human decision-making that allows for a better allocation of finite resources.
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court , artificial intelligence , AI , criminal


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