Why robocops need to be less efficient than human cops

“When speed limit laws were written, there was an assumption that they would enforced much of the time, with a certain amount of human discretion,” Hartzog says. “Trying to do this automatically can have unforeseen consequences.”

How do you solve this problem? You could program the application to issue speeding tickets to only one in every four speeders. But there’s a rub. What do you then tell the family of someone who was killed by someone who was speeding, but not cited?

Another consideration is that, through automation, it could eventually become impossible to break certain laws. And that might not be a good thing either. The authors of the paper point out that in some cases, breaking the law is necessary for social change. After all, not all laws are just, and the way they’re perceived can change over time.

What’s more, leaving humans out of the enforcement loop can magnify the effects when things go wrong.