At the 2021 CCLJ Annual Lecture, Professor Kelly Hannah-Moffat shared her expertise surrounding the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact on criminal justice practices. A central theme throughout her presentation was the importance of examining the logics of AI, and how these may interact with the logics of the criminal justice system more broadly. How does the coding and development of AI, and its design in identifying ‘crime’ and ‘criminals’ – with all the intrinsic bias and knowledge of its creators and data-input – actually impact how justice is served?

In this, Professor Hannah-Moffat reflected that AI is an “artefact of governance” that can reinforce existing discrimination and bias, and risks the entrenchment of existing inequalities as the status quo. The biases entrenched in the creation and use of AI in private, social and political spheres create an inequality of data that challenges the integrities of our legal systems all the while being idealised as a solution to human and systemic bias and discrimination. AI’s use within predictive policing and criminological discourse are at the forefront of Professor Hannah-Moffat’s concerns.

Interestingly, Professor Hannah-Moffat highlighted that one approach to contributing to activism in this realm is developing an understanding and engagement with the discourse – to examine the intricacies of AI in all the spheres in which it is used and impacts. She suggested that scholars and activists must begin to ask different questions of  and about AI – to move beyond scrutinising risk-based policing tactics, and questions of ‘who will recidivate’, and towards a more sociological questioning of the structural determinants of ‘criminality’ and recidivism.