The Rise of the Robojudges with Professor Josh Davis

According to an article written by our guest, “Some of the most exciting, vexing, and terrifying issues at the intersection of AI and law involve robojudges. Can we build a robojudiciary that replaces human judiciaries? Should we? Doing so would massively disrupt how our legal systems operate. It also might transform democratic self-government.” I have to ask: Would any of that be so bad? It’s not like humans are doing such a bang-up job. The risk, of course, is what if we get it all wrong? 

The good news for all of us, not the least of which are the robe and wig industries,  is that we still have time. Artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly, but it’s still not able to think like a learned jurist. We can say it will have flaws, but so do our human deciders. So it will be a tradeoff, right? What are the risks? What are the upsides? Will robojudges be able to absorb infinitely more information quickly? Will they hand down decisions free from the influence of bias? Wouldn’t it be great to eliminate conflicts of interest? 

Joining me to discuss this not-so-out-there concept is Joshua P. Davis, a nationally recognized expert on legal ethics, class actions, and artificial intelligence in the law. He is Research Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of Law, and Shareholder and Manager of Berger & Montague, P.C.’s new San Francisco Bay Area Office. For more than 20 years Josh was a tenured Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco Law School, where he also served as the Director of the Center for Law and Ethics. Josh is authoring two books, one titled Unnatural Law, dealing with AI and the law, and a second on the important issue of class action ethics. 

Finally, remind me never to assume anything when I ask Josh a question. I said something like, “Surely we’re not talking about sci-fi robots here,” to which he basically said, “Not so fast.” This happened more than once. When will I learn? 

This podcast is the audio companion to the Journal on Emerging Issues in Litigation, a collaborative project between HB Litigation Conferences and the Fastcase legal research family, which includes Full Court Press, Law Street Media, Docket Alarm and, most recently, Judicata. If you have comments or wish to participate in one our projects, or want to tell me how insightful and forward-thinking Josh is, please drop me a note at