Basic Questions in the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence in Law

From the abstract for Harry Surden’s The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence in Law: Basic Questions (Forthcoming chapter in Oxford Handbook of Ethics of AI, 2020):

Ethical issues surrounding the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in law often share a common theme. As AI becomes increasingly integrated within the legal system, how can society ensure that core legal values are preserved?

Among the most important of these legal values are: equal treatment under the law; public, unbiased, and independent adjudication of legal disputes; justification and explanation for legal outcomes; outcomes based upon law, principle, and facts rather than social status or power; outcomes premised upon reasonable, and socially justifiable grounds; the ability to appeal decisions and seek independent review; procedural fairness and due process; fairness in design and application of the law; public promulgation of laws; transparency in legal substance and process; adequate access to justice for all; integrity and honesty in creation and application of law; and judicial, legislative, and administrative efficiency.

The use of AI in law may diminish or enhance how these values are actually expressed within the legal system or alter their balance relative to one another. This chapter surveys some of the most important ethical topics involving the use of AI within the legal system itself (but not its use within society more broadly) and examines how central legal values might unintentionally (or intentionally) change with increased use of AI in law.

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