Sunday 11 December 2016

Computer 'judge' can predict the outcome of rulings

Sarah Knapton

Published 25/10/2016 | 02:30

'The new method is the first to predict the outcomes of court cases by automatically analysing case text using a machine learning algorithm' Photo: Depositphotos
'The new method is the first to predict the outcomes of court cases by automatically analysing case text using a machine learning algorithm' Photo: Depositphotos

A computer 'judge' has been developed which can correctly predict verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights with 79pc accuracy.

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Computer scientists at University College London (UCL) and the University of Sheffield developed an algorithm which can not only weigh up legal evidence, but also moral considerations.

As early as the 1960s experts predicted that computers would one day be able to predict the outcomes of judicial decisions.

But the new method is the first to predict the outcomes of court cases by automatically analysing case text using a machine learning algorithm.

"We don't see AI replacing judges or lawyers, but we think they'd find it useful for rapidly identifying patterns in cases that lead to certain outcomes," Dr Nikolaos Aletras, study lead at UCL Computer Science, said. "It could also be valuable for highlighting which cases are most likely to be violations of the European Convention on Human Rights."

To develop the algorithm, the team allowed an artificially intelligent computer to scan the published judgments from 584 cases relating to torture and degrading treatment, fair trials and privacy.

The computer learned that certain phrases, facts, or circumstances occurred more frequently when there was a violation of the human rights act. After analysing hundreds of cases, the computer was able to predict a verdict with 79pc accuracy.

"Previous studies have predicted outcomes based on the nature of the crime, or the policy position of each judge, so this is the first time judgments have been predicted using analysis of text prepared by the court," co-author Dr Vasileios Lampos said.

"We expect this sort of tool would improve efficiencies of high level, in-demand courts, but to become a reality, we need to test it against more articles and the case data."

The research was published in the journal 'Computer Science'.

Telegraph.co.uk

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