AI and the courts: Will machine learning decision making ever replace judges?

Sir Geoffrey Vos, the Master of the Rolls and Head of Civil Justice in England and Wales gave a recent speech on the possibility of AI replacing humans in decision making roles. He made a number of key points:

* AI technology is unlikely to replace human beings in judicial decision-making in complex, personal cases.

* AI could provide solutions for certain types of civil disputes.

* AI is already having and is likely to have effects on legal services and dispute resolution methods, including the courts.

* The digital justice system being introduced in England and Wales will allow citizens and businesses to go online to be directed to the most appropriate online pre-action portal or dispute resolution forum.

* Using AI as part of such a system could allow people to be fully informed of the process being undertaken and could help them read and understand complex sets of rules and legal instructions.

* AI technology could be used to take some, initially minor, decisions, but anyone involved in legal dispute would always need to know which decisions were taken by judges and which by machines.

* There should always be an option to appeal to a human judge.

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