Point, click, convict


In an attempt to ease Brazil’s badly backlogged legal system, three judges in the state of Espirito Santo are experimenting with an artificial-intelligence program called the Electronic Judge. The program lives on a laptop, which can arrive at the scene of a minor traffic accident within minutes, along with a human judge and a court clerk, reports NEW SCIENTIST. The humans provide the program with on-the-spot data about particulars of the accident, and out pops a verdict, complete with legal reasoning.

Most fender benders call for a mechanical, logical application of the law rather than any real legal interpretation, explains the programmer who invented the Electronic Judge, and nothing does mechanical and logical better than a computer. The human judge is there to overrule the judge-in-the-box if the human disagrees. Most drivers are glad to avoid a court appearance, though supporters concede there may have been the odd case or two in which drivers weren’t entirely aware that the little black box was calling the shots. Insurance companies in the US are interested in this streamlined approach, and are in talks with the system’s creator.

MORE HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.