Artificial Intelligence and the Transformation of Humans, Law and Technology Interactions in Judicial Proceedings
The paper connects the potentially disruptive effects of Artificial Intelligence (AI) deployment in the administration of justice to the pre-existing trajectories and consequences of court technology development. The theoretical framework combines Luhmann’s theory of technology with actor–network theory to analyse how the new digital environment affects judicial agency. Then, it explores law and technology dynamics to map out the conditions that make legal the use of technologies in judicial proceedings. The framework is applied to analyse ‘traditional’ digital technologies (simple online forms and large-scale e-justice platforms) and AI-based systems (speech-to-text and recidivism assessment). The case comparison shows similarities and dynamics triggered by AI and traditional technologies, as well as a radical difference. While system developers and owners remain accountable before the law for the functioning of traditional systems, with AI, such accountability is transferred to users. Judges—users in general—remain accountable for the consequences of their actions supported or suggested by systems that are opaque and autonomous. This contingency, if not adequately faced with new forms of accountability, restricts the areas in which AI can be used without hampering judicial integrity.