Department of Justice announces new AI initiative

Justice AI will bring together experts to speak about the relationship between artificial intelligence and the criminal justice system.
Department of Justice, DOJ
(Shane T. McCoy / U.S. Marshals / Flickr)

The Department of Justice is launching an artificial intelligence initiative that will host various interdisciplinary experts for discussions about the technology over the next half-year, and relay those findings in a report to President Joe Biden about AI and the criminal justice system. 

In a speech at the University of Oxford about the opportunities and risks of AI, DOJ Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said that Justice AI will collect information from “individuals from across civil society, academia, science and industry” in an effort meant to assist the agency in preparing for and understanding how the technology will “affect the department’s mission,” ensuring that Justice harnesses AI’s potential and is “guarding against its risks.”

Justice AI will include foreign counterparts who are “grappling with many of the same questions,” Monaco said in her remarks, adding that the report to Biden will be delivered at the end of the year. 

“Technological advancements have and always will fundamentally challenge the department’s mission,” Monaco said. “Because at its core, technology impacts how we protect people and how we ensure equal treatment under the law. 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.”


During CyberScoop’s Zero Trust Summit in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the department’s CIO, Melinda Rogers, did not speak about the Justice AI announcement, but did address how DOJ is utilizing AI in security applications. 

“It’s actually applying, potentially, artificial intelligence where appropriate with consultation from our private attorneys,” Rogers said. The DOJ wants to “make sure that as we look at this material, how can we leverage information from all this log data that we’ve been collecting? Reality is, historically, we’ve used log data for incident response. If something happens, we go back and look at this, but I think there’s a real opportunity there to see what could be applied so that it’s more instant, more predictive.”

DOJ currently lists 15 AI use cases in its inventory, as required by a Trump-era executive order

In January, FedScoop reported on a DOJ AI disclosure regarding an FBI project with Amazon Rekognition, an Amazon Web Services product. The FBI’s Rekognition project is currently in its initiation phase to “customize and identify items containing nudity, weapons, explosives and other identifying information.” 

In response to a request for comment and additional information, DOJ said that it didn’t have anything further to share at this time.

Caroline Nihill

Written by Caroline Nihill

Caroline Nihill is a reporter for FedScoop in Washington, D.C., covering federal IT. Her reporting has included the tracking of artificial intelligence governance from the White House and Congress, as well as modernization efforts across the federal government. Caroline was previously an editorial fellow for Scoop News Group, writing for FedScoop, StateScoop, CyberScoop, EdScoop and DefenseScoop. She earned her bachelor’s in media and journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after transferring from the University of Mississippi.

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