Bio: Dal-Young Kim
Born in Seoul, Korea in 1969, Ph.D. in Physics. He is currently a professor at Seoul National University of Science and Technology. Started SF creative activities by winning the 2019 SF Short Story Contest.
How to Make the Society Just
The press conference held right after the ruling was made was extremely crowded. Bogwan Kim who was sitting at the conference site to cover the case was raging like all the others.
It has been only a few years since AlphaGo, the AI program playing GO match made its shocking debut, but Saetbyeol Electronics and the Ministry of Justice experimented on a trial run by an AI judge. And today was the day of ruling from the first trial made by the AI judge.
Coincidentally, the first case assigned to the AI judge was a sexual assault case. Korean court randomly chooses judges when assigning cases and out of all odds, a sensitive case was assigned.
Many people expected the AI judge to make a fair and just ruling, that AI will destroy the usual practice of ruling against sexual assault cases that have been tepid and male-centric so far. However, the revealed ruling was basically the same as the rulings that have been made by human judges before. Jail time was reduced because the offender was drunk, and reduced more because he was being remorseful and regretting what’s been done. Another reduction of jail time was given because the offender provided the amount of money that was worth the settlement even though he failed to settle with the victim, and more reduction to the penalty considering the suspicious element of victim’s behavior, et cetera et cetera. In addition to the very light execution which was obvious to be given because sentencing not guilty would be too much, probation was sentenced.
Enraged journalists (even male ones seemed to be as enraged as female journalists at least about this ruling) sent the initial breaking news piece to the headquarter and started to get ready to run toward the press conference. Various women’s societies that were pushed away for not being journalists were voicing out the denouncement, constantly trying to enter the conference. Inside the conference, several people related to the Ministry of Justice and Saetbyeol Electronics were sitting there with the AI judge, the “subject of the matter”, connected to the network.
The person who went up to the podium first was a governmental official with the title called the head of the Trial System Improvement Department under the Judicial Policy Research Institute. The high-ranked governmental official who seemed so obvious to be a bureaucrat with oily skin laid out overflowing compliments on how much effort was put by the court (and by him as the person in charge) into applying up-to-date technology for making the trial system cutting edge. Meanwhile, he seemed to be extremely worried about how the societal rage would influence his promotion. As the wrong speech wrapped up and when the journalists were given time to give questions, a journalist from A Daily News got the first chance to throw a question.
“The ruling made by the AI judge today wasn’t different at all from the typical rulings made by the judiciary system so far. What’s the point of applying AI to the trial if that’s the case?”
“Since AI is being applied to diverse industries, the court as well couldn’t hesitate any longer from applying the high-end technology of Saetbyeol Electronics with the world’s best technology. We will invite Mr. Shin, the department director from Saetbyeol Electronics for further explanation.”
Assuming from the rumor that had already spread widely throughout the press, his excuse basically meant they couldn’t help but being lobbied by Saetbyeol Electronics. There indeed was nothing that Saetbyeol Electronics couldn’t do in this country once they decided to do it. After smoothly assigning to the subcontracting company for answering a tricky question, the department head quickly went back to the seat, seeming relieved that he got away with it without getting nitpicked on everything.
Mr. Shin who seemed as if he wouldn’t shed a single drop of blood when poked with a needle just like any executive member of Saetbyeol Electronics would look like stood on the podium as if he made a big success no matter what the journalists babble about and made a long rambling speech about the technological excellency of AI judge. Journalists of the science department seemed skeptical about the propaganda of Saetbyeol Electronics insisting their technology is the world’s best. (All journalists knew that the department head got the promotion to his current position solely because he was a master of sales and promotion rather than because of being a good engineer.) The journalist from A Daily News ended up grabbing the microphone and throwing the same question again.
“If the technology is so high-end, why is the ruling made by the AI judge today the same as the typical ruling made by the judiciary system?”
To such a sharp question, the department head dumped the responsibility onto the leader of the engineering team, saying that the leader was going to explain anything about the technology, and ran back to his seat, escaping from the podium smoothly as an eel.
The leader of the engineering team seemed to have studied at the lab and have never done any press conference before. With a sulky face as if he didn’t understand why he must be harassed by the press in such a public conference, he tried hard to explain the process of development of AI as easily as possible.
“You misunderstand how artificial intelligence works. AI runs based on machine learning, which literally means that it is a machine that learns. Initially, the AI is like an empty can and how it develops depends on what kind of learning is given to them. And what would the AI judge learn from? There’s no choice but for them to learn from existing rulings. That’s why AI judges can’t help but following the precedents. If you are unsatisfied with today’s ruling, it’s because of the poor rulings made by human judges until now. It is not the fault of the AI we made!”
Although the atmosphere at the conference became unsettled due to the aggressive comment purely based on a technical perspective, the journalist from A Daily News did not back out.
“So you’re saying AI judge will follow the customs of past rulings in the end. Then what’s the point of developing AI judge spending such a large budget? Who will resolve the sufferings of the victims and how could we stand for justice?”
As a lot of journalists were resonating and wondering what the leader was going to say in response, Suddenly, there was a noise that sounded like a low sigh heard from the microphone. And the AI judge connected to the conference room via network started speaking. It sounded as if the AI judge was spitting it out because it couldn’t take it anymore.
“Justice… Is supposed to be realized by humans. Do not offload the responsibility to me.”
At that moment, all the people in the conference room couldn’t close their mouths.