Brazilian Chief Justice Discusses Use of AI in Overloaded Judicial System | News

Luís Roberto Barroso, chief justice of the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil, discussed the use of artificial intelligence to streamline the Brazilian legal process at a Harvard Law School event on Friday afternoon.

The event, which marked the kickoff of the fifth Brazil Legal Symposium at HLS, was moderated by HLS master’s student Giovana Carneiro and featured former HLS Dean University Professor Martha Minow.

Barroso began his talk by discussing how the Brazilian judiciary has already begun to use AI to expedite the selection process of cases dealing with “general repercussion” — the criterion the court uses to pick the cases it will hear.

“We get around 70,000 cases per year,” Barroso said, adding that he hopes artificial intelligence can be used to sort cases and “make justice faster.”

Barroso said more than 85 million lawsuits are currently in process in Brazil — a country with a population of 160 million adults.

“One out of two Brazilians is in court right now,” Barroso said, attributing the large number of court cases to the ease with which Brazilians can file lawsuits. Over 40 million of the current cases are “pre-cases,” Barroso said, meaning there are no fees required.

Barroso described many of these cases as “futile litigation,” the sheer number of which can overload courts. He said he hopes AI can be used to better discern between predatory litigation — lawsuits primarily intended to harass defendants — and other cases.

Barroso acknowledged concerns that AI could amplify existing biases but stood by his conviction that it will have the opposite effect, allowing for more impartiality within the judicial system.

“We all fear that AI could be biased, or have prejudice, or we fear algorithmic discrimination,” Barroso said. “But let me tell you, judges also have biases – judges also have prejudice.”

Rather than worrying about AI’s potential negative implications, Barroso said, humans should accept and adapt to the unprecedented speed at which the technology is evolving.

“The internet took seven years to reach 100,000,000 users. ChatGPT took 2 months,” Barroso said.

Still, Barroso told the crowd that despite the ever-growing state of AI, the judiciary’s core values must remain unchanged.

“Beyond all of the modernities we’re talking about – all the things that are coming – we still need to live by old traditional values,” he said. “Goodness, justice, and human dignity.”

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