A key House of Representatives panel has pressed for a report to study the use of artificial intelligence to analyze prisoners’ phone calls. “But prisoners’ advocates and inmates’ families say relying on AI to interpret communications opens up the system to mistakes, misunderstandings and racial bias,” reports Reuters. From the report: The call for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to further explore the technology, to help prevent violent crime and suicide, accompanies an $81 billion-plus spending bill to fund the DOJ and other federal agencies in 2022 that the Appropriations Committee passed last month. The technology can automatically transcribe inmates’ phone calls, analyzing their patterns of communication and flagging certain words or phrases, including slang, that officials pre-program into the system. A House Democratic aide said in an emailed statement they were encouraging the DOJ “to engage with stakeholders in the course of examining the feasibility of utilizing such a system.”
Several state and local facilities across the country have already started using the tech, including in Alabama, Georgia and New York. The House panel wants the DOJ to look into potentially leveraging the technology for federal use and to identify gaps or shortcomings in the information it produces. Privacy groups say the technology could amplify racial bias in the justice system and unfairly subject prisoners to unaccountable artificial intelligence. Proponents dispute such criticisms, saying the tech is a vital time-saving tool for law enforcement and does not target specific groups.