Caio Cesar Rocha: artificial intelligence is an ally, not an enemy
Lawyer Caio Cesar Rocha analyzes how technology will revolutionize the labor market and the Judiciary.
You have seen this film: in the not too distant future, men are fighting with super-intelligent machines that try to destroy humanity. The beaten plot belongs to the field of science fiction. In the real world, no serious prognosis suggests that robots will annihilate our species in the coming decades. What they are likely to do, according to most predictions, is to wipe out their job. And it can be good, believe me. Want an example?
Amazon uses 100,000 robots at its logistics centers in the United States. The direct effects of the growth in the use of machines were an increase in productivity, sales and, consequently, the opening of new jobs. Today, 125 thousand people work in the company’s warehouses.
Now, another retail giant, Walmart, invests heavily in automating its physical and online stores. The supermarket chain is also hiring more human labor.
Old professions are disappearing for new ones to emerge. According to a survey by the World Economic Forum, machines will perform more tasks than people until 2025. In that period, however, robotics will create another 58 million jobs.
At the doors of the 21st Century
For some years futurologists have been making assumptions about what work relationships will be like. To try to anticipate what will happen ahead, they look to the past and the present. History professor Yuval Noah Harari, bestselling writer admired by Bill Gates, did this exercise in his recent 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.
“Fears that automation will cause massive unemployment date back to the 19th century, and have never materialized until now,” says Harari in his book. “But there are good reasons to think that this time is different, and that machine learning will be a real factor that will change the game,” he concludes.
According to the thinker, we have two types of skills, physical and cognitive. At the time of the Industrial Revolution, technology began to replace humans in manual labor. But people stayed ahead of the machines in mental capacity.
That started to change. With advances in the field of artificial intelligence and biotechnology, computers are already able to learn on their own. They can also understand human emotions and behavior. Therefore, we would be facing a new technological revolution, in which robotics would replace us in our cognitive capacity.
According to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, by the year 2055, half of the world’s jobs, equivalent to around 1.1 billion jobs, will be automated. New professions and occupations will emerge.
However, in some decades, according to a broad analysis by the Brookings Institution, workers with lower wages and low degrees of specialization will be more vulnerable. In contrast, well-trained professionals who work in areas that involve social skills and a high degree of emotional intelligence will remain in their posts.
One of the most cited studies by those who venture to guess at the future was carried out in 2013. Scientists at the University of Oxford, UK, analyzed the possible impacts of automation on 702 different professions in the United States. They concluded that 47% of them are at risk of being supplanted by robots.
Telemarketing employees, supermarket cashiers, credit analysts, according to the study, have a 97% to 99% chance of disappearing. I’m a lawyer. According to Oxford researchers, legal assistants have a 94% chance of being replaced by computer programs. This, by the way, is already happening today. Small legal activities that were conducted by people are now run by software.
My profession still exists. But, perhaps, not for long. Historian Harari believes that some areas of advocacy will be taken over entirely by machines. He is not alone. Eleven years ago, British scholar Richard Susskind published the book The End Of Lawyers – Rethinking The Nature Of Legal Services, in which he foresees the transformation of the profession to the point that many activities performed by lawyers could become unnecessary.
Algorithms in law
One might think that a world free of lawyers is a positive thing. But experiments with artificial intelligence in law still need to be improved before replacing the judiciary as a whole – not only lawyers, but also judges and prosecutors are on target.
Three years ago, an algorithm used by the United States Courts has been controversial. The program, called Compas (acronym in English for Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions), was developed to assess the degree of dangerousness of criminals and help to define their sentences.
The problem: after evaluating seven thousand different convictions given by Compas in Wisconsin, ProPublica, an investigative journalism organization, discovered
that the penalties of minorities, such as blacks and Latinos, were more severe than those of whites. An important detail: information about the prisoners’ race was not provided to the algorithm. How, then, were the results so disparate?
Algorithms are mathematical formulas used to answer problems. They use databases and information crossings to present the results. In the specific case of Compas, they used information from the American judiciary. According to ProPública, the injustices and prejudices of the country’s penal system were carried into the algorithm. In this way, the skewed database led the machine to learn to judge in an equally skewed manner.
“The data from the past can be biased,” professors of statistics and data science Sofia Olhede and Patrick Wolfe, from University College London and Purdue University, said in an article on the subject. “This must be considered to avoid the perpetuation or the creation of discriminatory practices”, they conclude. For the algorithm to work well, it is necessary to make corrections. For him to be impartial, the business is more complex.
It took centuries for humanity to develop fairer legal systems and more democratic models of government. Still, they are imperfect and uneven. Now, it will be up to artificial intelligence to perfect our creations and design new ones. All this in much less time. Better yet, have powerful allied machines. And let only in science fiction are they our archenemies.