A smartphone app that tells a defendant what to say in court using artificial intelligence has been used for the first time – and is a lot cheaper than a lawyer.
It is the first time artificial intelligence (AI) has been used in a trial anywhere in the world.
The neural network will listen to all speeches from witnesses, lawyers and the judge.
The defendant will be told exactly what to say via an earpiece – sticking to only those words.
Legal history is being made over a speeding fine. The breakthrough may set a precedent for more serious cases.
Identities and locations are being kept secret by DoNotPay, the California-based company behind the tool.
It would be illegal in most countries – but British-born founder Joshua Browder has successfully argued it can be classed as a hearing aid.
The 25-year-old entrepreneur admitted: “It is technically within the rules, but I don’t think it is in the spirit of the rules.”
The landmark test case is being held next month. The firm has agreed to pay any penalties imposed.
DoNotPay is also offering $1 million to anyone with an upcoming case at the US Supreme Court if they will do the same thing.
The computer brain has already been used to talk directly to the customer service staff at a bank with a synthesized voice.
It successfully reversed several bank fees on its own, reports New Scientist.
Mr. Browder said: “It is the most mind-blowing thing I have ever done. It is only $16 that we got reversed, but that is the perfect job for AI – who has time to waste on hold for $16?”
The program has been trained in a range of case law topics – including immigration law.
It has intervened in about three million cases in the US and the UK.
The AI app sticks to factual statements, rather than saying whatever it could to win regardless of truth.
Mr. Browder said: “We are trying to minimize our legal liability. And it is not good if it actually twists facts and is too manipulative.”
The AI app audio tool is also tweaked to not automatically react to statements.
Mr. Browder said: “Sometimes silence is the best answer.”
His ultimate goal is that the software will eventually replace some lawyers.
Mr. Browder said: “It is all about language, and that is what lawyers charge hundreds or thousands of dollars an hour to do.
“There will still be a lot of good lawyers out there who may be arguing in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
“But a lot of lawyers are just charging way too much money to copy and paste documents and I think they will definitely be replaced, and they should be replaced.”
Dr. Nikos Aletras, a computer scientist at Sheffield University, has created AI that can accurately predict ECHR cases.
He has seen the growing use of machine learning in the legal system – but warns its adoption needs careful consideration.
Providing real-time audio legal advice in a courtroom would still be a technological challenge. Ethical issues remain, such as whether it would even be legal to use.
Using recording equipment in the UK would breach the Contempt of Court Act 1981. This AI system may fall foul of that rule.
Neil Brown, of the law firm decoded.legal, says: “It appears to involve transmitting the audio to a third party’s servers and processing that audio within the resulting computer system.
“I’d have thought a judge might well conclude it was being recorded, even if deleted soon afterward.
“So probably not something to try here unless you fancy contempt proceedings, at least not without checking it with the judge first.”
But asked if such a trial would be legal, the UK Ministry of Justice likened AI to ‘McKenzie friends’ – people with no legal training who assist in court.
They don’t have to be qualified lawyers, but defendants have the right to have them sit in court and offer advice, a spokesperson explained.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker.