US Deputy Attorney General launches AI criminal justice initiative

15 February 2024

Lisa Monaco 2
America's Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Lisa O. Monaco announced the launch of the Justice AI initiative that focuses on the use of AI in the American criminal justice system.

In a speech at an Oxford Martin AI Governance Initiative event, she said Justice AI - run by the US Department of Justice - would listen to perspectives from across civil society, academia, science, and industry so her department could understand and prepare for how AI would affect its mission. The aim would be to ensure AI’s potential for good was accelerated while guarding against its risks.

This was necessary, DAG Monaco said, adding that while all new technologies were double-edged swords, AI could be ‘the sharpest blade yet’ – albeit with the potential to be a powerful tool in criminal justice.

‘Yet for all the promise it offers, AI is also accelerating risks to our collective security. We know it has the potential to amplify existing biases and discriminatory practices. It can expedite the creation of harmful content, including child sexual abuse material,’ she said.

‘It can arm nation-states with tools to pursue digital authoritarianism, accelerating the spread of disinformation and repression. And we’ve already seen that AI can lower the barriers to entry for criminals and embolden our adversaries.’

Lisa Monaco event

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco speaks at the Oxford Martin School's Lecture Theatre

DAG Monaco also outlined the potential AI risks during elections such as radicalising users on social media through generated content and misinforming voters; she expanded on this in a separate interview with the BBC.

‘Our work at the Department of Justice is to make sure that whatever comes now or next adheres to the law and is consistent with our values.

‘Our responses today — and the responsibilities we take on — from our work at the Department of Justice to your work right here at Oxford, will shape the role AI plays in our lives now and for decades to come,’ she concluded.

The Deputy Attorney General then participated in a dialogue moderated by Sam Daws alongside Dr Aaron Maniam, Fellow of Practice and Director of Digital Transformation Education at the Blavatnik School of Government.