I Can’t Stop Thinking About ‘Artificial Justice’, A Film That Explores A Future Where AI Can Condemn You To Death

2 min read

This article is for general information purposes only and isn’t intended to be financial product advice. You should always obtain your own independent advice before making any financial decisions. The Chainsaw and its contributors aren’t liable for any decisions based on this content.



[Warning: Spoilers ahead]

In early 2023 a court in Colombia hired a ‘metaverse judge’ to preside over a virtual court case in the metaverse. It was a world-first, and was hailed as a groundbreaking use of futuristic technology. The Colombian administrative court even said at the time that it intended to “rely on” ChatGPT and AI technology. 

So, AI is already within the justice system. In real life. For now, people are cautiously optimistic. But Simón Casal’s political sci-fi thriller Artificial Justice takes it further and explores the sinister side of AI. Specifically, what happens when a nation allows artificial intelligence to take charge of an important pillar of democracy — one that can rule on whether its citizens live or die? 

Artificial Justice is set in a futuristic Spain, where its citizens are about to vote on a historical national referendum: whether or not to complement judges in court with an AI software known as THENTE. 

THENTE appears as a powerful and efficient tool: it uses facial recognition, among other technologies, to predict whether or not a suspect is guilty, if they’re lying during interrogation, if a criminal would reoffend, and so on. 

“Everyone is equal under the algorithm,” THENTE’s co-founder, Brais (Tamar Novas) says in a scene.  

But are they? At the centre of the plot is respected judge Carmen Costa (Verónica Echegui), who’s torn between pledging her allegiance to the government and THENTE, or to a group of “honest” judges who still believe in humans running the court. Costa’s hesitance to endorse THENTE reflects current anxieties surrounding AI’s existing flaws — its biases, hallucinations, ethics …

THENTE and its employees mirror the big tech corporations and Sam Altmans of the world. Technopositive tech bros who stubbornly believe that tech can eliminate human error, and eventually replace humans.

The film is thought provoking and at times a little too close to reality. However its resolution is anti-climatic. What was the outcome of the referendum? How did the self-driving cars’ satellites work? Bitcoin was mentioned as a method of payment and “the future of money”, but how did the cryptocurrency fit in the AI landscape?

Artificial Justice is timely and intriguing, and is now showing at the 2024 Spanish Film Festival in Australia.

The 2024 HSBC Spanish Film Festival, presented by Palace Cinemas nationally, runs June 14 to July 10. Tickets here.

Image: Artificial Justice (2024), courtesy of Palace Cinemas