The future of legal justice, can robots save humans?

Future Justice

People in North America have just 47% confidence in today’s justice system – not impressive, is it? So is our justice systems are as they are, and they are just a necessary evil or, will a push come to improve the situation? Unfortunately, people don’t think of this subject until it affects them – most of us are not embroiled in a legal process but a few times in our lives.

News Forecasters will focus on civil justice rather than criminal justice (constitutionally it dictates a trial by one’s peers), though both may have similar issues and can benefit from future innovation. Let’s first review where we are at today.

Legal Backlog

Justice delayed is justice denied, so the saying goes. Our world continues to get more and more complex. Humans are entering in all kinds of relationships and agreements with the expectation that law and order will prevail – both business and non-business. It is not just a more complex world, but as well as distrust. News Forecasters believes this is growing – we see this exemplified in the divided political situation we see today. We can see by the inset chart that the historical number of cases continue to rise, as does the backlog of cases.

Number Judges

Judicial systems around the world have tried to keep pace with growing legal litigation. Size of the legal services market worldwide is growing 5% a year and is accelerating. Today it is nearly a $1 trillion global market. One can see in the inset chart that in the U.S. the growth in judges required to hear the growing number of cases has gone exponential. Though a judicial system is paramount in any modern country, can this growth continue? After all legal services are mere “friction” in an economy. People usually do not enter into agreements with the idea that it automatically goes into dispute.

News Forecasters asks what will a future justice system look like? Whatever happens, it will take at least 10 to 20 years for any real new solutions to come – but it will come. Cost and speed of a decision will be the key drivers. The two biggest judicial services that we see coming will be; non-arbitration and automated judgments.

Third-party arbitration companies and/or institutions have existed a long time. In one area specifically, is in the area of employment. More than half, 53.9% of nonunion private-sector employers have mandatory arbitration procedures. Among companies with 1,000 or more employees, 65.1% have mandatory arbitration procedures. Among private-sector nonunion employees, 56.2% are subject to mandatory employment arbitration procedures. Employment arbitration is not without its critics (forced arbitration as a condition of employment) – click here and other types of arbitration, click here. So does the arbitration on the arbiter? The jury is still out on arbitration, but News Forecasters believes that due to distrust in special interest rigging of the system, arbitration may be a dead-end street.

So if we can’t trust arbitration, do we turn back to governments and the backlogs? It’s not as if people trust governments anymore. Besides these same special interest can just move into government. A potential solution is to turn to the robots – oh dear – automated judgments. Computers are very binary and cold with their whirling fans to keep them cool. But perhaps that is what is needed – a rigid unemotional judge – i.e. AI (artificial intelligence). Automated judgment via AI will include; case registration, evidence gathering, evidence validation, judgment decision trees, and resolution/human escalation – all scored via complex but public AIs.

One might think that the AI is just as influenceable as people, after all, it is just a human coder that makes the AI. True, but at least the decision tree can be made public and any potential outcome would be understood better and in advance. It also would be at a lower cost and speed. An automated judge could not decide all cases, but the more clearly obvious ones could, thereby relieving the more tricky ones to humans. The other point here is, that though AI systems can show bias (driven by their authors), it would provide more consistency in decisions.

So can the robots save humans? Perhaps not, but right now it is the only solutions in terms of getting better and faster justice to the public in the future. Yes, robots may even replace lawyers – is that so bad?

A video presentation of this subject:

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