A 4-year-old girl from Tsu, a city in Mie prefecture, Japan, died from abuse after officials followed an artificial intelligence (AI) system’s suggestion not to take her into temporary custody.
Key details: The girl’s 42-year-old mother was taken into custody in June for the death of her daughter caused by unspecified inflicted injuries.
Government officials explained at a prefectural assembly that the AI system introduced in 2020 uses collected data from around 13,000 past child abuse cases to determine if a child should be taken into temporary custody.
In the case of the 4-year-old girl, the AI system suggested a 39% need to take her into protective custody.
Past incident: Child consultation center officials reportedly met with the mother in February 2022 after reports of bruises on her daughter’s body.
Officials had reportedly decided to visit the girl occasionally as she remained in her mother’s care after the mother indicated that the bruises were not a result of abuse and that she would follow the instructions of the child consultation center.
Failure to follow-up: Due to the AI system’s result and their record with the mother, authorities purportedly chose to monitor the girl’s situation without taking her into temporary custody. They failed to visually confirm her safety for almost a year after she reportedly stopped showing up at daycare.
“Nothing more than a yardstick”: At the prefectural assembly, Mie Gov. Katsuyuki Ichimi noted that the government has tapped a third-party committee that is not connected with the case to investigate the matter. Katsuyuki also stated that the “figures shown by the AI system are nothing more than a yardstick.”
“We can’t draw a conclusion now as to whether (the way the AI system was used to make the decision) was 100% appropriate,” he added.