Sat, Sep 21, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Program predicts child custody battle outcomes

EFFICIENT:The program could help reduce courts’ workload, cut waste of social resources and increase chances of out-of-court settlements, its developer said

By Hung Mei-hsiu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A smartphone screen showing a Web site developed by National Tsing Hua University that uses artificial intelligence to help predict the outcome of child custody cases is pictured in Hsinchu yesterday.

Photo: Hung Mei-hsiu, Taipei Times

National Tsing Hua University yesterday unveiled a program that uses artificial intelligence to predict the outcome of child custody cases, which the university said was more than 90 percent accurate.

The system was developed by a team headed by National Center for Theoretical Sciences physics professor Wang Daw-wei (王道維) and Lin Yun-hsien (林昀嫺), a professor in the university’s Institute for Law and Science.

The program was fed 2,000 rulings from 2015 to 2017 to serve as a database and model for judges’ decisionmaking patterns, Wang said.

As custody battles are usually acrimonious and bitter, a legal resolution is not necessarily the best way, Lin said.

The program could reduce courts’ workload by allowing both parties to understand the possible results of a legal case, she said, adding that this could result in fewer court cases and waste of social resources, while increasing the number of out-of-court settlements.

A number of countries have started using AI, although it is still restricted to the analysis of potential for recividism or settling credit card disputes, Wang said.

Eventually, the program could be expanded into other legal areas, he said.

The Civil Code’s regulations on who should get custody based on the child’s best interests cite instances that are not easily defined, such as the willingness of the child to stay with the parent; the finances and vocation of the parent and how they interact with the child, Wang said.

Using the program is easy, such as ticking off certain boxes on a list or narrating the situation to the computer, Wang said.

The computer would then provide projections of the ruling, Wang said.

For example, Jane, worried that she would not obtain custody of her child if she filed for a divorce with John, who is having an extramarital affair, could tell the program that she is the primary caretaker and can provide a stable and positive life for the child while also saying that John has a stable job that could help provide for Jane and the child.

The program would provide an estimate within seconds; in this case, Jane would have a 72 percent chance of getting custody, John a 13 percent chance and joint custody a 15 percent chance, Wang said.

The program uses a technology whose patent is pending, said Lee Ya-lun (李亞倫), the team’s data science analyst, adding that it has adopted an artificial neural network to boost efficiency.

The team said it would be holding discussions with legal experts, practicing lawyers, judicial personnel and social welfare workers to obtain more data, to help them present a more rounded program with subroutines and ancillary measures that could be customized to an individual’s needs.

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