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The students of Michigan State University College of Law




For some crimes the entire law enforcement process can now be automated. No humans are needed to detect the crime, identify the perpetrator, or impose punishment. While automated systems are cheap and efficient, governments and citizens must look beyond these obvious savings as manual labor is replaced by robots and computers. Inefficiency and indeterminacy have significant value in automated law enforcement systems and should be preserved. Humans are inefficient, yet more capable of ethical and contextualized decision-making than automated systems. Inefficiency is also an effective safeguard against perfectly enforcing laws that were created with implicit assumptions of leniency and discretion. This Article introduces a theory of inefficiently automated law enforcement built around the idea that those introducing or increasing automation in one part of an automated law enforcement system should ensure that inefficiency and indeterminacy are preserved or increased in other parts of the system. A theory of governance is critical for those who implement and administer automated law enforcement systems. Without it, systems become unmoored from ethics. Ironically, failure to responsibly automate law enforcement risks creating systems that actually undermine law and democracy. One way to preserve ethics in automated law enforcement systems is to preserve ethical actors, inefficiency and all.



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