Sunday, December 5, 2021

"Using AI to Predict Trafficking Sentences" (Anne Cheung Profiled in HKU Bulletin)

"Using AI to Predict Trafficking Sentences"
Anne Cheung
HKU Bulletin
Published in November 2021
Computer Science and Law have joined forces to produce a predictor which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to calculate the likely sentencing for drug trafficking.
     Under the auspices of the Law and Technology Centre, the research team led by Professor Ben Kao of the Department of Computer Science and Professor Anne Cheung of the Faculty of Law have developed a Stage-1 model of HKU AI Lawyer, which can predict sentencing associated with eight different types of dangerous drugs. Users simply provide information, in the form of answering four straightforward questions, and the AI Lawyer will predict what sentencing will be, as well as breaking down individual factors that will lead to the sentence.
     “We wanted to find an answer to the challenging issue of how legal knowledge that is embedded in previous court judgments can be captured and modelled using machines,” said Professor Cheung. “Lawyers have to familiarise themselves with previous court cases or ‘precedents’ which serve as important guidelines to future cases. In Hong Kong alone, there are more than 80,000 historical judgments.
     “Although there are guidelines on determining prison term ‘starting points’, these starting-point penalties have to be adjusted based on various mitigating and aggravating factors specific to each case. Predictions are more difficult for more complicated cases, such as those involving multiple drug types.”
     It would be a Herculean task for a human lawyer to recall all relevant precedents when he or she is researching and preparing for a new case. The team therefore took on the task of studying how to train a machine to comprehend and memorise court judgments using AI techniques and to reason based on the logic discovered from judgments. …Click here to read the full text. 

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