For some time now, news has emerged about projects and field tests through which experiments are being carried out with “Blockchain” technology, machine learning systems (“Machine Learning”) and other software variants that articulate and apply artificial intelligence in order to develop decision-making processes based on the field of judicial conflict resolution.
As often happens to humans when we are faced with a substantial paradigm shift, there was no shortage of voices that drew an arc of criticism that began by being dogmatically skeptical and negatively qualifying the mere idea of removing a human being from the study process of a file and issuance of a sentence to those who approached the problem from the ethical point of view.
Now, there are two experiences that we will mention here. The first, is the Estonian Data Director’s project to apply an artificial intelligence system in the resolution of legal disputes. The second, is the field test carried out by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires.
In the first example, what is proposed is that small claims (small claims in relative terms within the Estonian legal system) be managed and resolved by an intelligent computer system that can quickly determine the enforcement of a conviction or rejection of the claim, using software based on artificial intelligence technology and large databases. Let us remember that in recent years Estonia has always been identified as one of the countries that has made the most progress towards government or electronic administration (e-governance). This link provides basic information on the subject https://e-estonia.com/solutions/e-governance/
Notwithstanding this degree of progress, there were criticisms of the project to computerize judicial decisions and it was the responsible official himself who clarified that the final decision of the decision process would fall to a judge. We consider that, as in the other aspects of state administration, it is interesting to follow the evolution of Estonia, which has outlined the strategy of generating a qualitative and quantitative leap in the efficiency of the administration of justice and conflict resolution.
The second experience, local, is framed in a content and more limited testing environment. The objective of this pilot test was to obtain a feasibility study of the potential applicability of Blockchain technology applied to the issuance of tax opinions. In the framework of this experience, approximately 300 files that were waiting for the Public Ministry to issue its opinion were submitted to this system. The result was a resolution in seconds of all files with a degree of accuracy close to 99%.
The first comment (and fear) that usually arises, even trying to have a balanced and objective vision (that does not embrace technology for its own sake but is also open to everything that technology can contribute in each case) , is that the application of these technologies will necessarily entail (and in an “apocalyptic” way) the suppression of jobs that are currently occupied by people. It seems to me that this appreciation is limited and implies thinking based, perhaps, on scarcity and not realizing that today theoretical and practical knowledge flow dynamically and that collaborative construction is a reality that has “taken over” all human fields. In this context, with intelligent public policies, endowed with resources and constants, many people who today perform some tasks that do not represent an intellectual, labor or social challenge, will be able to improve their professional qualifications and perform tasks with greater added value. We are not idealists, nor are we ignorant of the difficulties and challenges inherent in this change. But we trust in the adaptability of people (always subject to the existence of strategies that society develops sustainably).
In the field of public administration and especially in certain areas of the administration of justice, the implementation of systems such as those described could be multiplying factors of effectiveness and efficiency.
Let’s take the example of the United States.
In almost all of its states the existence of “small claims” courts are contemplated in which, in some cases, even legal advice is dispensed with.
In those cases: How much efficiency could be achieved? How many resources could be reallocated to other more productive and strategic areas for a country project in the medium and long term?
In general, there is a consensus that there are still certain complex processes that imply a degree of analysis that for the moment could only be carried out by human beings. Now, many of those skilled humans could be freed from tasks that today can be performed by systems that have already proven their efficiency.
The application of this type of technology to justice administration structures with different (but notorious) degrees of delay compared to what exists in other countries will be positive if it is well administered (and if the ethical and human aspects are never forgotten).
Given the inexorable nature of certain advances, the role of society, expressed through public policies, will be fundamental to mitigate the possible negative collateral effects on the social that could occur (at least in a first stage).
Modernization would allow citizens to obtain a clear benefit in their favor when solving their needs and concerns. Likewise, it would allow the useful resources of the state apparatus to be reallocated in positions of greatest need, achieving a man-technology synergy that would result in a general benefit.
It is my opinion that the excessive fear of the advancement of technology is unfounded and to evade its sustained implementation would expose society to suffer higher costs (in broad terms in terms of energy and “life” units – destined to solve administrative and judicial issues.
Both the National State and the provinces and local governments are showing signs of wanting to move towards a modernization of the state apparatus. There is still a long way to go and sacrifices to be made, but what is certain is that we must welcome new technologies with open arms, understand them and apply them for the benefit of our daily lives.
Pablo Crescimbeni y Andrés Minicucci