Judge says he used ChatGPT in court ruling

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By Emily Hinkley on

AI first

What is thought to be the first AI-assisted legal decision has been published by a judge in Colombia.

Judge Juan Manuel Padilla Garcia says he used the tool to assist him in solving a dispute between a health insurance company and the guardian of an autistic child. The case concerns whether the child is covered for medical treatment.

Garcia, who presides over the First Circuit Court in the city of Cartagena, apparently employed the chatbot to ask legal questions and included its full responses in his ruling alongside his own thoughts, which have been translated from Spanish:

“The arguments for this decision will be determined in line with the use of artificial intelligence (AI), accordingly, we entered parts of the legal questions posed in these proceedings.”

He emphasised that any information put forward by the bot gets fully fact-checked and the purpose is to assist and speed up the process — not to replace judiciary expertise.

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The AI was asked questions including: “Is an autistic minor exonerated from paying fees for their therapies?” and “Has the jurisprudence of the constitutional court made favourable decisions in similar cases?”

Currently, this sort of practice is allowed within Columbian law, but there are concerns that these types of systems can give biased responses based on the datasets they are trained on.

The news follows a flurry of recent activity around the AI tool, with one US professor claiming that it should be taught to students as a legal research tool alongside LexisNexis and Westlaw. What’s more, we’ve learnt that ChatGPT can write poetry and successfully answer questions on the Watson Glaser test.

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