China Develops AI ‘Prosecutor’ That Can Charge People With Crimes

by : Charlie Cocksedge on :
China Develops AI ‘Prosecutor' That Can Charge People With CrimesAlamy

Researchers in China believe they have developed a ‘prosecutor’ that can charge people with crimes using artificial intelligence.

The design is said to be able to recognise ‘dissent’ and other crimes such as fraud, gambling and dangerous driving, with up to 97% accuracy, and could be set to remove human decision from some prosecution processes.


According to researchers, the AI ‘prosecutor’ files charges based on a verbal description of the case.

Police officers in China. (Alamy)Alamy

The technology was built and developed at the Shanghai Pudong People’s Procuratorate, China’s largest district prosecution office, South China Morning Post reports.

Professor Shi Yong, director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ big data and knowledge management laboratory, who is also the project’s lead scientist, said the AI prosecutor could reduce daily workload for human prosecutors, and therefore allow them to focus on the more difficult cases. ‘The system can replace prosecutors in the decision-making process to a certain extent,’ he said.


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While AI already exists in some prosecutorial situations, such as in image recognition and digital forensics, Shi believes it has a limited role as ‘they do not participate in the decision-making process of filing charges and [suggesting] sentences’.

Making such decisions requires the AI to identify and remove any irrelevant information, without removing the necessary details, as well as boiling down complex information and human language into simplified, mathematical or geometric formulas that computers can understand.

Artificial IntelligencePA Images

The AI prosecutor is proposed to run on a desktop computer, and would press charges based on 1,000 ‘traits’ that the computer would draw from the human-generated case description. The system would then assess the information it has been given.


After being ‘trained’ with more than 17,000 cases from 2015 to 2017, the AI can identify and press charges for eight of the most common crimes in Shanghai: credit card fraud, running a gambling operation, dangerous driving, intentional injury, obstructing official duties, theft, fraud and ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’. Shi and his team believe the AI will become more powerful with upgrades, though there are no plans for the technology to be rolled out further just yet.

‘AI may help detect a mistake, but it cannot replace humans in making a decision,’ one prosecutor said in response to the proposal.

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Charlie Cocksedge

Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist and sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.

Topics: Technology, AI, China, Crime, Now, Robot, Tech


South China Morning Post
  1. South China Morning Post

    Chinese scientists develop AI ‘prosecutor’ that can press its own charges