In recent years, the use of computer algorithms has become increasingly common throughout the justice system. On a daily basis, government agencies and policing authorities use artificial intelligence to help with tasks such as determining recidivism risks and spotting criminality patterns.
Though these algorithms can certainly be a useful tool when used correctly, they also come with a number of dangers. The most notable of these risks is undoubtedly the potential for bias. After all, the systems were designed by a human being - one who may have inadvertently skewed their calculations based on their own subconscious biases.
Of course, the only way to know if an algorithm is biased is to test it. However, since the most commonly used systems and programs tend to be owned and operated by private companies with nondisclosure agreements, this can be a little tricky. In most cases, access to the calculations can only be obtained through a lengthy court battle.
Since it would be both impractical and costly to litigate every single potential bias issue in each jurisdiction across the country, many researchers and lawyers are calling for legislation-driven transparency. Indeed, Hannah Bloch-Wehba, a law professor at Drexel University, points out that, "The people who are directly affected by these kinds of tools... are not always going to be in a position to seek access to information about how they function."
If transparency legislation were introduced, it would mean that each individual defendant would not need to fight a costly court battle to understand why the artificial intelligence systems came to their conclusions. Instead, they and their attorneys would be able to immediately see how the decision was made. This, in turn, would allow them to spot and fight against instances of bias.
Unfortunately, the justice system still has a long way to go before it can be considered fair and unbiased. As such, if you find yourself in legal trouble, you will need the help of a skilled attorney who can fight the system on your behalf. That's exactly what we do every day here at Shapiro Zwanetz & Lake. To set up your consultation with one of our experienced lawyers, simply give us a call at (410) 927-5137.