Chinese researchers said they have developed the first artificial intelligence capable of charging people with common crimes and dissent against the Chinese Communist Party, according to a Sunday report.
The AI "prosecutor" developed by the Shanghai Pudong People’s Procuratorate is capable of analyzing 1,000 traits from human-made case descriptions to press charges for crimes such as credit card fraud, dangerous driving, theft, and fraud, as well as "picking quarrels and provoking trouble," which is a catch-all charge used to stifle dissent, according to the South China Morning Post.
“The system can replace prosecutors in the decision-making process to a certain extent,” the project's lead researcher, Shi Yong, said in a paper published in the Chinese Management Review journal.
The Shanghai Pudong People’s Procuratorate is China's largest district prosecution office. The AI prosecutor was trained from a dataset of 17,000 cases in Shanghai from 2015 to 2020, the South China Morning Post reported.
It's not clear if the AI prosecutor is currently in use in Shanghai.
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Shi and his colleagues also said improvements were on the horizon for their AI prosecutor, hinting it could soon become capable of recognizing and charging less common crimes as well as charging a single suspect with more than one crime.
The researchers boasted that their AI prosecutor can file charges with 97% accuracy, but one Chinese prosecutor from the city of Guangzhou said that leaves too much room for mistakes.
“The accuracy of 97% may be high from a technological point of view, but there will always be a chance of a mistake,” the unnamed Chinese prosecutor said. "Who will take responsibility when it happens? The prosecutor, the machine, or the designer of the algorithm?”
"AI may help detect a mistake, but it cannot replace humans in making a decision," the prosecutor added.
China has ramped up its use of AI technology in recent years.
Many Chinese prosecutors already use the so-called 206 system to help analyze evidence and transcribe court testimony.
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And some Chinese cities use AI to monitor government employees' social activities to detect corruption, the South China Morning Post reported.