It's been trained to identify Shanghai's eight most common crimes.

Machine-Learning Justice

In a scenario that’s part "Robocop" and part "Minority Report," researchers in China have created an AI that can reportedly identify crimes and file charges against criminals. 

The AI was developed and tested by the Shanghai Pudong People’s Procratorate, the country’s largest district public prosecution office, South China Morning Post reports. It can file a charge with more than 97 percent accuracy based on a description of a suspected criminal case.

"The system can replace prosecutors in the decision-making process to a certain extent," the researchers said in a paper published in Management Review seen by SCMP. 

System 206, Esq.

The team built the machine off of an existing AI tool ominously called System 206. Prosecutors in China were already using the system to help assess evidence and determine whether or not a suspected criminal was dangerous to the public at large. 

However, it was fairly limited as it could not "participate in the decision-making process of filing charges and [suggesting] sentences," the team said in the paper. That would require the AI to be able to identify and remove irrelevant information in a case, and process human language in its neural network. 

The new AI developed in Shanghai is able to assess case files in such a manner. In fact, the machine can identify and charge criminals with the district’s eight most common crimes: credit card fraud, gambling, reckless driving, intentional assault, obstructing an officer, theft, fraud, and even political dissent

Who Watches the Watchmen?

Of course, there’s plenty of concern about a powerful computer with the ability to put people in prison. One anonymous prosecutor told SCMP that while its 97 percent accuracy is fairly high, "there will always be a chance of a mistake."

"Who will take responsibility when it happens? The prosecutor, the machine or the designer of the algorithm?" the lawyer told the newspaper. 

For now, the AI is still in its infancy and has yet to be widely rolled out. However, if recent trends are any indication, we can expect computers to do cops’ dirty work more in the future.

READ MORE: Chinese scientists develop AI ‘prosecutor’ that can press its own charges [South China Morning Post]

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