Technology 3 min read

Estonia is Using AI To Help Clear Legal Backlog

In a new push towards streamlining legal proceedings in the country, Estonia is using Artificial Intelligence to adjudicate on small claims court proceedings.

In a world first, Estonia is using Artificial intelligence to weigh in on legal proceedings. ¦ Shutterstock

In a world first, Estonia is using Artificial intelligence to weigh in on legal proceedings. ¦ Shutterstock

Artificial Intelligence is currently playing a significant role in our everyday life. Whether we’re trying to classify plant species, Netflix viewing preferences or mortgage suitability, we depend on AI to handle it all for us.

While having AI make everyday decisions for us is somewhat acceptable, using machines to determine guilt or innocence in court may seem a step too far. But the Estonian government doesn’t think so.

According to Wired, the Estonian Ministry of Justice has officially asked the country’s chief data officer, Ott Velsberg, to design a robot judge. Its purpose is simple; to handle a backlog of small claims court disputes.

The AI-powered judge would not only analyze legal documents and other relevant information, but it’s also supposed to reach a decision from its analysis. However, a human judge will revise the robot’s verdict before it becomes final.

Estonia’s New Found Romance With Artificial Intelligence

Estonia’s digital drive began back in the early 2000s. Estonia’s 1.3 million residents already own a National ID which enables a wide array of other online functions. These include e-voting and digital tax filing.

In 2018, the Estonian government hired 28-year old Ott Velsberg to oversee the nation’s AI and Machine Learning push. By introducing AI to various ministries, the government hopes to streamline services offered to its residents.

In a statement to Wired, Velsberg said;t

“We want the government to be as lean as possible.”

And that ‘s what they’re doing. Aside from developing an AI-based justice system, the country has already automated other government functions.

The country combines images from satellites with algorithms to determine if subsidized farmers are following government mandated rules. Also, a job-finding AI algorithm scans the resume of laid-off workers to help find them a suitable job.

So, while the robot judge is Estonia’s most ambitious AI project, it certainly is not the first.

With that said, the project is still in its early phase. According to Wired, its first stage, which focuses on contract disputes, will likely start this year. The developers would then make subsequent adjustments to the system based on feedback from lawyers and judges.

But, not everyone is optimistic about Estonia’s robot judge project.

In a statement to Wired, Stanford University’s David Engstrom, an expert in digital governance said;

“Estonian citizens might trust the government’s use of their digital data today, but things might change if one of the new AI-based decision-making systems goes awry.”

Do you think the world is ready for a robot judge?

Read More: Meet the Genderless AI Challenging Sexism in Tech

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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