Shanghai AI prosecutor accused of being inaccurate

Released: 2021

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An AI prosecutor in Shanghai, China, has been accused of being inaccurate and a threat to freedom of expression. 

China has developed an AI prosecutor which is able to charge people with eight common crimes, including fraud, theft, dangerous driving, obstructing official duties and 'provoking trouble', with over 97% accuracy, according to the South China Morning Post.

Built and tested by the Shanghai Pudong People’s Procuratorate, the system has been trained on over 17,000 cases and can charge a suspect based on 1,000 'traits' gathered from a human-documented description of a case.

Lauded by some for its accuracy, others are concerned about its potential for errors, and question how appeals can be made against its black box system. Others believe the program will be used to stifle freedom of expression, assembly and other forms of dissent.

The AI prosecutor works alongside 'System 206', which was used for the first time in Shanghai in January 2019 and which is said to evaluate evidence, conditions for an arrest, and the degree of danger a suspect poses to the general public. 

Databank 🔢

Developer: Shanghai Pudong People’s Procuratorate; Chinese Academy of Sciences
Country: China
Sector: Govt - justice
Purpose: Determine criminal guilt  
Technology: NLP/text analysis; Voice to text
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - multiple; Freedom of expression; Dual/multi-use
Transparency: Black box; Complaints/appeals

Page info
Type: Issue
Published: December 2021
Last updated: March 2022