The Turing Test and “Making a Murderer”

In our previous blog post, we applied the concept of “range voting” to jury trials. Today, we will discuss our 2012 paper “The Turing Test and the Legal Process” (published in volume 21 of the journal of Information & Communication Technology Law) and apply the Turing Test idea to jury trials. The original Turing Test refers to a simple game proposed by the great computer scientist Alan Turing (see video below). In brief, the game, in its original conception, involves three players: a man (player A), a woman (player B), and an interrogator (player C), who may be of either gender. The interrogator is allowed to put questions in writing to players A and B, and based only on the written responses provided by A and B, the interrogator must guess their true genders, or in Turing’s own words: “the object of the game for the interrogator is to determine which of the other two is the man and which is the woman.” Notice, then, the object of player A, the man, in Turing’s game is to deceive or fool the interrogator about the truth of his gender (and about the truth of the other player’s gender as well). Now consider a jury trial, like Steven Avery’s murder case in “Making a Murderer.” One of the things we did not like about Mr Avery’s legal strategy was his decision not to testify at trial, a common strategy in most criminal cases. But what would happen if criminal defendants were required to play a Turing game? That is, what would happen if the Turing Test were applied to jury trials? In other words, imagine an alternate legal universe in which player A assumes the role of the moving party (i.e., the prosecutor); player B, the role of the defendant; and player C, the judge or jury. In this alternate legal universe, the interrogator would be allowed to put questions directly to the parties in order to more accurately guess whether player B has committed a crime or other wrongful act or not. Although such a game may sound strange when applied to a legal dispute, isn’t such a “Turingesque” procedure more likely to generate the truth rather than the current criminal justice system, which encourages defendants not to testify?

Video | This entry was posted in Current Affairs, Law, Probability. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Turing Test and “Making a Murderer”

  1. Pingback: A Bayesian Model of “Making a Murderer” | prior probability

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