AI & Law - an overview from an argumentation perspective

Name: Henry Prakken
Organisation: Utrecht University

In this talk an overview will be given of the field of AI & Law. At first sight, building AI models of legal reasoning would seem to be simple: regulations could simply be represented as logical rules which could then be logically applied to the facts of a case. However, this mechanical view leaves out most of what is important in legal reasoning. To start with, the law has social objectives and social effects, which must be taken into account when applying the law. Moreover, legislators can never fully predict in which circumstances the law has to be applied, so legislation has to be formulated in general and abstract terms, which must be interpreted in concrete cases. In addition, the facts of a case can often not be proved with certainty. Finally, legal cases often involve conflicting interests of opposing parties. For all these reasons, legal reasoning goes beyond straightforward logical rule application but involves appeals to precedent, principle, policy and purpose, and all this from opposing points of view. In other words, law relies not just on deduction but on argument.

Accordingly, the overview in this talk will be from an argumentation perspective. First the limitations of rule-based expert system technology (one of the main practical successes of AI & Law) will be discussed. Then the support of legal fact finding with Bayesian techniques will be critically examined. Finally, the use of (big) data in the law will be discussed from an argumentation perspective.

Henry Prakken is a lecturer in artificial intelligence at the computer science department at Utrecht University and professor in Legal Informatics and Legal Argumentation at the Law faculty of the University of Groningen. He has master degrees in law (1985) and philosophy (1988) from the University of Groningen. In 1993 he obtained is PhD degree (cum laude) at the Free University Amsterdam with a thesis titled Logical Tools for Modelling Legal Argument. His main research interests concern computational models of argumentation and their application in multi-agent systems, legal reasoning and other areas. Prakken is a past president of the International Association for AI & Law, of the JURIX Foundation for Legal Knowledge-Based Systems and of the steering committee of the COMMA conferences on Computational Models of Argument. He is on the editorial board of several journals, including Artificial Intelligence (currently as an associate editor).

This talk is suitable for all attendants.

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