Yes, Robot Lawyers Are Now A Thing


In China, where artificial intelligence (AI) is gradually being integrated into the court system, the latest development is a robot that helps litigants with legal advice.

Xiaofa, the state-run China Daily reported Friday, is 1.46 meters tall, can move its head and hands, and speaks in a child’s voice.

“Xiaofa explains complicated legal terms in everyday language to help the public better understand legal definitions,” said Du Xiangyang, the founder of the company that designed the machine. 


“We used a child’s voice to ease the tense emotions of litigants who come here for help.”

On the screen on the Xiaofa’s chest, answers to “over 40,000 litigation questions and 30,000 legal issues” will appear for those seeking advice, China Daily reports.

Legal professionals tested the machine before it debuted in a Beijing court on Thursday.

Ma Laike, deputy head of Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, says incorporating artificial intelligence into the legal system “will decrease the cost of litigation, save trial resources and improve the efficiency of justice.”

Xiaofa isn’t the first AI to make an appearance in a Chinese court, and it certainly won’t be the last, as China Daily explained in its Friday article:

“The Supreme People’s Court has ordered Chinese courts at all levels to build technology-friendly systems for lawsuits and explore the use of big data and AI to help judges and litigants search documents and resolve cases.”

Last October, the country unveiled Faxiaotao, a robot that helps people determine if they have a lawsuit. If the robot determines they do have a legal issue, it also helps them find the right attorney. Jiang Youyi, who is in charge of Faxiaotao’s technology, used copyright infringement as an example in describing the machine’s function.

“Within a few minutes, the robot verifies whether there is an actionable unfair competition dispute and tells the inquirer who the three best specialist lawyers are to handle the case,” he told China Daily.

On the criminal side of things, the Telegraph reported in August that AIs have helped determine sentences in over 15,000 cases since debuting in Chinese courts last year. Those robots, which the outlet describes as having “heads shaped like toasters,” can approve indictments and even generate search warrants.


Creepy_Azz_Crackaah CJgipper Tue, 10/17/2017 - 17:54 Permalink

No, actually, he wasn't. It was a lawyer joke.

For a decent analysis of the scene, read here:

An excerpt from the article:

"The argument of this remark as in fact being favorable to lawyers is a marvel of sophistry, twisting of the meaning of words in unfamiliar source, disregard of the evident intent of the original author and ad hominem attack. Whoever first came up with this interpretation surely must have been a lawyer.

The line is actually uttered by a character "Dick The Butcher". While he's a killer as evil as his name implies, he often makes highly comedic and amusing statements. The wisecracking villain is not an invention of modern action movies, it dates back to Shakespeare and beyond."

In reply to by CJgipper

CJgipper VWAndy Tue, 10/17/2017 - 17:17 Permalink

Is a car hop uniform including a poodle skirt that you wear to the school dance which is a themed sock hop a deductible unreimbursed business expense?Good luck with that straight answer.  (Hint:  If you wouldn't have purchased the skirt for the dance, then yes.  If you would have purchased anyway, then no.)

In reply to by VWAndy

GoldHermit Tue, 10/17/2017 - 15:57 Permalink

Judge:  Where's your client?Robot: I killed him.Judge:  You killed him?  Why did you do that?Robot:  I determined he was guilty and there was a high probability you would have fucked it up.

floosy Tue, 10/17/2017 - 15:58 Permalink

So basically it has a list of predetermined questions that eventually lead it to one of four Answers: Lawyer 1, Lawyer 2, Lawyer 3 or No Deal.MacDonalds employees have followed exactly the same kind of formula when serving customers for decades.Not really AI is it?

LawsofPhysics Tue, 10/17/2017 - 16:04 Permalink

Please, when fraud is the status quo, possession is the only "law".Maintaining possession is another thing altogether, for fuck's sake it is and has been a "just-us" system for quite a while now, robot attorney or not.

what happened Tue, 10/17/2017 - 16:10 Permalink

 I think robots will make perfect lawyers  On personality assessements in comparison to other managers and professionals, lawyers only had higher average scores on Learning Approach. In contrast, lawyers had significantly lower average scores on three scales: Adjustment, Ambition, and Interpersonal Sensitivity. These results suggest that, as compared to other highly educated members of the U.S. workforce, lawyers tend to be more direct in their dealings with others, approach work with more of a sense of urgency, and be less concerned with obtaining leadership positions above all other goals..  Can't wait for this to happen to the medical profession.

E.F. Mutton Tue, 10/17/2017 - 16:10 Permalink

"...answers to “over 40,000 litigation questions and 30,000 legal issues” will appear"Program one to say Racist/Sexist/Homphobe like a fucking parrot and you've got an Ivy League Professor

Hongcha Tue, 10/17/2017 - 16:12 Permalink

The mouthbreathers' only recourse will be robots.  For sex, legal "defense", as cooks, whatever else.The Party members and other privileged species will have flesh & blood.And not one Chinese citizen in 1000 will notice.  They are brainwashed from youth to keep their head down and follow the guy in front of them.

GeezerGeek 1.21 jigawatts Tue, 10/17/2017 - 16:35 Permalink

AI is a misnomer. At best we can develop expert systems. Given all the facts and proper algorithms, a legal 'AI' could be quite valuable. It would be nice to be able to ask questions and get unbiased, accurate answers. In the US at least, the legal code is far too complicated for most human lawyers to know in its entirety. Ditto the tax code. I could even see using such an 'AI' as a judge or prosecuter. What do we need human lawyers for anyway. A pox on them!I would also like to see something like an 'AI' medical professional. Medicine is, far too often, even harder to practice than the law. A computer with the ability to know how symptoms relate might be better at reaching an accurate diagnosis than many current doctors, particularly new ones. Plus I would love to have a medical conversation without wondering if the doctor had a hidden interest in pushing one 'cure' rather than another.Now if we can combine a medical 'AI' with a sexy nursebot, the stampede to that office will be phenominal.My biggest question is how such an 'AI' could be developed, given the generally low level of 'I' among the humans that would be used to design them. Sort of like asking if there is any intelligence anywhere in the universe.

In reply to by 1.21 jigawatts

CJgipper GeezerGeek Tue, 10/17/2017 - 17:20 Permalink

You're missing it.  The robots can give answers to questions like "Is my answer due today or monday since the deadline is on a weekend and the calendar is off from the 30 day count?"  The robots (AI) cannot answer whether you are guilty of sexual harrassment for asking a coworker out twice because it depends on the context and content of those exchanges.  

In reply to by GeezerGeek

SweetDoug Tue, 10/17/2017 - 16:34 Permalink

'''I sure don't have a whit of experience with the dog-eater's law, but what will happen when their robot goes up against ours is a court?Civilizations will fall over the result.ojov-v

Anonymous (not verified) Tue, 10/17/2017 - 17:38 Permalink

That is one area that I am happy to see being taken over by robots. Being a lawyer us a license to rob nowadays. 

Sudden Debt Tue, 10/17/2017 - 18:43 Permalink

The first time a sued a guy, my lawyer was 100% sure he could get my 200K back on multiple legal points.... When we had a first interview with the other camp... that moron started sweating like a pig and almost said nothing... Now I know that if I do a 100K lawsuit, I'll need a 20K lawyer. And if I see somebody with a prodeo... well... I just smile :)