AI Judges!

April 3, 2019 · Print This Article

There’s not a day goes by where we don’t hear about another area Artificial Intelligence is being used in. One of the latest comes from Estonia.

The Estonian’s like to push the technological boat out, so much so the Estonian Ministry of Justice has asked a team to design a robot judge, responsible for making decisions to settle small claim disputes up to £6000. But trusting a judge that has not experienced the human condition? Isn’t there something uniquely human about the judging process.

Last year I stood in front of a judge trying to get a fine reduced. I was unaware I had to pay a car fine, consequently, the fine increased. But explaining the circumstances to a robot! After my hearing, the judge agreed. Why? Because of mitigating circumstances, I did not intend to evade a fine. And that’s why we need human judges: to understand nuance, motive and emotions. All of which may be beyond our mechanical magistrates.

To judge is about not just the letter of the law, but weighing the weightier matters of the law. This ability to weigh the law for the optimum outcome for the individual is for the expertise of human judges.

But one religious leader, Jesus, once gave some insightful advice in deciding judicial matters, encouraging people to not neglect “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.”[1] But what does this mean?

It has something to do with the statement he is most famed for saying.  “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”[2]  So what was this all about? A woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to Jesus.

The religious law demanded she should be stoned to death for this. Jesus was in a legal dilemma. He knew the letter of the law, but he also knew that a decision of such consequence meant considering the weightier matters of the law: “justice and mercy and faith.” This is where we need the human element – that sees motivation, that understands emotion, and can visualise the best outcome. This is the sole domain of a human – no AI needed.

Jesus could see her accusers were trying to trap him. He could see her vulnerability; and he knew, in this instance, what would produce the greatest change in her behaviour. After the accusers had walked away, knowing they could not throw a stone, he was left with her alone. ““Then neither do I condemn you, Jesus declared. Go now and leave your life of sin.””[3]

A perfect Judge! Able to judge with his heart for the best outcome for the individual.

Read the story in full here.


[1] The Bible, Matthew 23:23 (NKJV)

[2] The Bible, John 8:7 (NIV)

[3] John 8:11 (NIV)

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