This article was published by The Future Society in Educational Programs, The AI Initiative, The Law & Society Initiative on May 12, 2022

MOOC on AI and the Rule of Law: Successful Completion of the Pilot Phase

Main insight

Over 4,400 participants from over 140 countries registered for the online course exploring AI’s impact in and for justice.

Educational ProgramsThe AI InitiativeThe Law & Society Initiative
May 12, 2022
4 min read

On March 14th 2022, The Future Society and UNESCO – with the support of the National Judicial College,, and IEEE SA – launched a global introductory MOOC on AI’s adoption and impact on the rule of law.

Structured around six modules, the course unpacks the opportunities and risks of the increasing adoption of AI technologies across justice systems and AI’s impact for the administration of justice, particularly concerning human rights, AI ethics and governance issues.

After the first six-weeks since its launch, the course benefited from a total of 4,432 participants from over 140 countries and successfully delivered on its objectives, notably to to strengthen capacities of judicial operators worldwide to protect human rights, democratic principles, and the rule of law in relation to the use of AI.

Judges and lawyers were the biggest groups of stakeholders who participated in the course, representing more than half of the participants. Fifty percent of the participants in the course were women, as per to the available data.

Some key indicators, following the six-week pilot phase, are provided below.

Key Indicators (as of April 22nd 2022)
6 modules delivered by 21 lecturers, including geographical representation from all 5 UNESCO Regions and 52% female representation
Accessibility in 7 languages: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese,  Russian, Chinese, and Arabic
24 educational videos, 6 powerpoint slides, 34 use cases and case examples, 21 lecture summaries, 6 reading lists, 6 discussion fora, and 6 quizzes
4,432 course registrants, from over 140 countries (3,675 registrants joined from countries outside Europe or North America)
50% female course registrants, amongst those who chose to disclose their gender
725 certificates of completion distributed during the six-week pilot phase

Course participants, according to the evaluation survey, strongly agreed that after taking the course they had a better understanding of artificial intelligence, its implications in justice systems and its impact on human rights.

“[The course is] an eye opener, just to see how other jurisdictions are also dealing with the issue of the rule of law. It was definitely valuable to me … having gone through this particular training, I think there is a need for continuous training on the rule of law because things keep changing.” – Hon. Catherine W. Mburu, Senior Resident Magistrate serving in the Judiciary of Kenya

“Of the many lessons learned, I would point out as the most relevant the importance of “molding” the use of AI within the Judiciary to our core ethical values through a human rights-based approach. If we as judges choose to “turn our face” and let the “Tech guys” handle it, ignoring the way AI will be implemented within the Judiciary, our future generations will have us to blame for the probable distancing the decision making of tomorrow will have from our humanistic principles we appreciate today.” – Sergio Torres Teixeira, Justice in the 6th Regional Labour Court of the Brazilian Labour Justice, in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil. Professor of Law at the Recife Law Schol, of the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) and at the Catholic University of Pernambuco. PhD in Law (UFPE, 2004).

Apart from the course content, the initial six-week phase of the MOOC was accompanied by two interactive sessions around the digitalization of justice systems and data protection, AI-based judicial decision-making and the role of human oversight, as well as an active online forum for exchange of knowledge among judicial operators worldwide.

Ideated by The Athens Roundtable‘s Working Group on Judicial and Legal Education on AI, the course reflects The Roundtable’s capacity to spur and co-produce capacity-building projects, in addition to serving as a multi-stakeholder forum that advances the international AI policy dialogue in support of human rights and the democratic order.

The course was offered as part of UNESCO’s Judges’ Initiative which has trained over 23,000 judicial operators since 2014. Through publications, toolkits and both online and on-the-ground training, the initiative builds the capacities of judicial operators to engage with emerging challenges and protect fundamental human rights and the freedom of expression. 

The course is still accessible online and can be taken as a self-paced course.