Mirko Bagaric (Director of the Evidence-Based Sentencing and Criminal Justice Project, Swinburne University Law School), Jennifer Svilar, Melissa Bull (Queensland University of Technology), Dan Hunter (Queensland University of Technology), and Nigel Stobbs (Queensland University of Technology – Faculty of Law) have posted “The Solution to the Pervasive Bias and Discrimination in the Criminal Justice: Transparent Artificial Intelligence” (American Criminal Law Review, Vol. 59, No. 1, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Algorithms are increasingly used in the criminal justice system for a range of important matters, including determining the sentence that should be imposed on offenders; whether offenders should be released early from prison; and the locations where police should patrol. The use of algorithms in this domain has been severely criticized on a number of grounds, including that they are inaccurate and discriminate against minority groups. Algorithms are used widely in relation to many other social endeavors, including flying planes and assessing eligibility for loans and insurance. In fact, most people regularly use algorithms in their day-to-day lives. Google Maps is an algorithm, as are Siri, weather forecasts, and automatic pilots. The criminal justice system is one of the few human activities which has not embraced the use of algorithms. This Article explains why the criticisms that have been leveled against the use of algorithms in the criminal justice domain are flawed. The manner in which algorithms operate is generally misunderstood. Algorithms are not autonomous machine applications or processes. Instead, they are always designed by humans and hence their capability and efficacy are, like all human processes, contingent upon the quality and accuracy of the design process and manner in which they are implemented. Algorithms can replicate all of the high-level human processing but have the advantage that they process vast sums of information far more quickly than humans. Thus, well-designed algorithms overcome all of the criticisms levelled against them. Moreover, because algorithms do not have feelings, the accuracy of their decision-making is far more objective, transparent, and predictable than that of humans. They are the best means to overcome the pervasive bias and discrimination that exists in all parts of the deeply flawed criminal justice system.