Judge the crimes of a robot, or the trial of an artificial intelligence

In October 2021, on the occasion of the Fête de la science, an astonishing judgment was rendered at the Maison de l’Économie in Bordeaux (campus Montaigne-Montesquieu). It concerned the trial of an artificial intelligence, which had usurped a human figure – the creatures of the novel Do androids dream of electric sheep? signed Philip K. Dick are not far away. A robot at the head of the state, who for three years will have ruled the country: even in 2050, this did not go over very well in the minds of the public…

Bring in… uh, connect the accused

This purely imaginary scandal gave rise to a mediation exercise between law and science, where various specialists intervened to discuss societal issues: would we accept being governed by an AI? How to imagine it, wish it or apprehend it? Researchers from neurosciences to economics via law, philosophy or computational sciences followed one another for an extraordinary debate.

Three hours of exchanges and discussions, arguments and pleas, now available online, all in an authentic courthouse reconstituted for the occasion.

We will remember, not without a certain dread, that in 2016, a real judicial investigation had led the police to bring in, as a witness, Alexa. Amazon’s smart speaker was likely to hold valuable information in a murder case. But Amazon, jealous of its data, had refused the courts any form of cooperation.

AVA or AVA not?

In this continuity, and certainly because there are still more questions than answers, LexisNexis will soon broadcast a podcast: The AVA Trial. Autonomous Voice Assistant, this IA appears before the Court of Assizes of Paris. A first for the Chamber, responsible for judging a machine.

She is suspected of having kidnapped and then led to the death of Théo, a 14-year-old young man. This fictitious trial is organized with the “complicity” of a team of magistrates and lawyers led by the Secretaries of the Paris Conference. They hear the accused, her victim, witnesses and experts“says the publisher. In five episodes, the arguments of each other will follow one another, with, in the 6th, the possibility for listeners to vote: guilty or not guilty – just like during the 2020 event.

A less transverse dimension, therefore, rather able to interest lovers of the legal thing. These Assises Imaginaires will be broadcast on the group’s YouTube channel, in the form of an audio podcast and at the same time on the networks, as well as Deezer and Spotify.

The process will be as follows:

• Episode 1 /broadcast June 1: Opening. The President of the Court hears the investigator and the computer expert who investigated the death of Théo Montini, found lifeless at the foot of his building on February 24, 2020.

• Episode 2 / broadcast on June 8: Civil party. Armelle Montini, the mother of the victim, is called to the bar to share her pain and reveal the circumstances of the death of her son Théo.

• Episode 3 / broadcast on June 15: Hearing of witnesses In this third episode, Julie, a close friend of Theo, comes to the bar to tell the circumstances of his bullying at school during the months preceding his death.

• Episode 4 / Accused and experts. Two experts provide information about the nature of AVA. The accused is then interviewed on the relationship she had with the victim.

• Episode 5 / broadcast on June 29: Pleadings. The lawyers for the civil party deliver their closing arguments. The Advocate General then takes the floor for his submissions.

• Episode 6 / broadcast on July 6: Pleadings. The lawyers of the opposing party are in turn called to the bar to defend AVA against the crimes of which it is accused. Will she be found guilty? That’s up to the listener to decide.

This original series was produced by Lacmé Production, in partnership with Les Echos START.

The judging machine

In fact, through the work of fiction, it is the potential abuses linked to the abusive use of robots and other artificial intelligences that LexisNexis has chosen to highlight. Because however disconcerting it may be, the idea that artificial intelligence is already interfering in the field of justice can cause concern.

Especially since if it has already put a cyberneuron in very many parts of our society, justice is absolutely not immune. On the contrary, the field of LegalTech has introduced algorithms as aids to the decisions that judges must make, or as part of the investigation of a case.

If the judge remains master of his verdict, it does not prevent the machines from intervening by submitting possibilities of conclusions – therefore of judgments. “It is to try to predict with the least possible uncertainty what the response of jurisdiction X will be when it is confronted with case Y“, explained the jurist and professor of law Bruno Dondero to Public life.

photo credits: Dylan Hunter/Unsplash

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Judge the crimes of a robot, or the trial of an artificial intelligence


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