CHIEF Justice Ivor Archie on Friday sounded a note of vigilance over the possible impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and cyber attacks on the functioning of the TT judiciary.
He was addressing a media briefing– with Jamaica chief justice Bryan Sykes and Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court chief justice Janice Pereira – after a conference of regional chief justices at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.
On AI, CJ Archie said, “The consensus is that its use is unavoidable if we are to remain relevant and productive, but care has to be taken to avoid contamination of the decision-making process through algorithmic bias and other weaknesses,”
In the question session, reporters asked how the TT Judiciary would deal with any cyber attacks and whether it had faced any past attacks.
Archie replied, "In Trinidad and Tobago – I can speak about that – there have been attempts at penetration, fairly recently, which we were able to contain.
"But I think, as you know, the black hats (malicious hackers) are continually evolving their methodology."
He said the conference has helped regional judiciaries assess their cyber security.
"What we got today was a framework for each of us to be able to assess – look at our risk matrix and assess where we are – and then take concrete next steps towards developing proper workplace culture, how to organise incident responses, and to make sure that we have robust mitigation and continuity plans in the event that there is a breach."
Archie said some of those things could be done fairly easily, while others require significant enquiry and investment.
"So it's really more of a roadmap that we have, and we now move forward with that information and that guidance."
Noting variance in different judiciaries, he said no one-size solution fits all.
Asked about a non-functional link on the judiciary website recently, he said that can occur even without any cyber attack.
"We don't have any (cyber) incidents of that nature reported for the last few days."
Archie did not consider AI a threat to the judiciary per se, but said care was needed, and possibly legislation.
"I think there are dangers of which we have to be aware, but as AI becomes more and more ubiquitous, it begins to impact things, for example, like the quality and reliability of evidence.
"We now see examples in other jurisdictions where lawyers are using AI to prepare briefs and end up with fictitious citations."
Archie said the judiciary must develop good habits to be more critical about what it accepts.
"We have to develop protocols for the acceptance of certain types of evidence. Some of this may require legislation.
"In terms of the use of AI, which is contemplated in some types of litigation, we have to make sure we build in the safeguards, if we are to deploy it in order to assist in speeding up the delivery of justice."
Archie did not yet view AI as a dangerous threat to the judiciary, but said it needed to be aware of what could go wrong without appropriate protocols.
He said the judiciary and executive would have to hold talks ahead of any drafting of legislation on AI and the judiciary.
Parts of Europe, he said, have drafted regulations to prevent the egregious use of AI in the courts or evidential path.
"One of the simple things that happens in some places is that if you use AI you have to declare it. Things like that you can put in regulations and rules."
Sykes, in his brief remarks, said the judiciary now exists in an age of increasing scrutiny, under which increased accountability is required of it. He said the conference had let the the region's judiciaries share best practice.
"It is an opportunity to learn from each other. We can take the best of what each of us has to offer."
On AI, he remarked, "Despite the hype surrounding it, it has practical uses that can have an impact on service delivery almost immediately."
He said AI highlighted the impact on a judiciary's digitisation of services offered to the citizenry.
Sykes said no one under 30 knew of a time without the internet, relating his own children's incredulity at his recollections of having to photocopy textbooks in the pre-internet era.
"We have to adapt what is appropriate to our circumstances and ensure what we do enhances the delivery of justice and also access to justice through appropriate technology." He advised that cyber security could start with personal precautions rather than costly measures.
"Begin at the individual level by changing our attitudes to how we use our computers – changing our passwords regularly, closing it down when you are not using it and so on, until we get to the high-end technologies to really put us in a position to secure the data that we already have effectively."
Pereira said lessons shared at the conference could improve each judiciary's accessibility, responsiveness, accountability and efficiency.