Durham police are to give a role to artificial intelligence in decisions about the risk posed by criminal suspects.
The AI system, which has been tested by the Durham Police Force since 2013 and trained on five year's worth of data, assigns a risk category to suspects.
The BBC reports that the system has proved itself to be 98 per cent accurate in assessing suspects as low risk suspects and 88 per cent accurate in flagging high-risk ones, although it is not made clear exactly how this is measured.
The AI system, known as Harm Assessment Risk Tool (Hart), has been tested by custody officers in the course of their work, but has not yet assisted their decisions. However, this is about to change, said Sheena Urwin, head of criminal justice at Durham Constabulary.
"I imagine in the next two to three months we'll probably make it a live tool to support officers' decision making," Urwin told the BBC.
When it does go live, it is likely to be controversial because of the possibility that the system has been calibrated wrongly or may subject to the bias of its controllers. In a recent case in the US it was claimed that algorithms used by the police for sentencing displayed racial bias.
Many will also be uneasy about the principle handing over such important decisions to machines. Although Hart will be used on a support basis rather than in making any final decisions, it will raise fears of "mission creep".
There can be little doubt that such systems will play a greater role in all sorts of decision making in the future, however.
"There are not enough barristers in the UK to read all the documentation to keep the justice system stable…" pointed out a business consultant during Computing's recent research into gig data and the IoT.
Paul Cant, vice president EMEA of BMC Software commented: "It should come as no surprise that the use of AI is starting to filter into public services - all businesses across all industries have to adapt to thrive in the digital era."
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