Ex-Federal Court chief justice rejects robots in court, says compassion is key

Former Federal Court chief justice James Allsop has dismissed the idea of artificial intelligence replacing humans in courtrooms, saying Australian law embraces the fairness and compassion of people and would reject the rigid, mechanical conduct of a robot.

“The experiential, the implicit and the importance of feeling to the human circumstance allows the court, as an institution, with its experience and knowledge to express its response as the manifestation of just state power to the inherently human, infinitely varied, often tragic and violent situations before it,”

While the tasks of lawyers will change as machine learning develops to draft documents, produce research briefs and analyse contracts, the law cannot properly be applied without “human feeling”.

Mr Allsop’s comments come as AI continues to infiltrate legal spaces, and Australian firms buy their own legal chatbots to carry the load for overworked practitioners.

Mr Allsop reinforced the “indefinable humanity of the law” and the necessity of compassion and fairness from judges, that cannot be replicated by technology alone.

“Logic, definition and precise taxonomy may solve many problems, but human judgement in relation to others is centra….I accept that human judgement can be mimicked (at least in the result but also in a body of reasons) by a machine, but that is not the process of undertaking the process and making the human judgement, in particular when the judgement involves choice between two equally available conclusions.”

“The greatest danger is not from the machine, but from the human who thinks like the machine about the law.”

“That danger is real: some lawyers and some judges can be heard to say at times that text and logic form the law. For them, the machine may begin to be human, but it is they who mimic the machine by refusing to accept or appreciate that the law is not abstract logic and words alone (important though they are); it is the indefinable presence of rule, principle and value; ultimately it is organised societal morality,”

“The results of the application of the law may be mimicked by a machine; but for there to be a system of justice there must be the human process of engagement in the manner I have discussed.”

Source: The Australian






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