Intelligent, automated methods of investigation for the purpose of future-oriented criminal prosecution – interactions between law and ethics, forensics and technology, environment and society


Our lives are shaped to an increasing extent by information technologies and floods of data. The federal prosecution authorities are likewise faced with new challenges in view of these developments: Some investigations would no longer be at all possible without procedures that are supported by technology or are automated. But how can investigative methods based on artificial intelligence be used in criminal proceedings in a legally compliant manner?

The participants in the interdisciplinary Ladenburg Roundtable “Intelligent and automated investigative methods for future-oriented criminal prosecution: interactions between law and ethics, forensics and technology, environment and society” discussed questions relating to the interfaces between artificial intelligence and criminal law. This event took place on March 7 and 8 under the direction of Prof. Dr. Anja Schiemann from the Faculty of Law at the University of Cologne. Its scientific aim is to secure appropriate functional, legal, ethical, and sociological conditions for the use of innovative investigative methods in criminal proceedings at an early stage.

The potential of personal data for prosecution authorities can only be tapped if authorities can work more efficiently by implementing innovative methods of investigation. In this connection, it is essential to further develop existing procedures while maintaining ethical standards, or to establish entirely new methods based on the solid foundation of the Basic Law. In the course of this Ladenburg Roundtable, the participants assessed the fundamental need for intelligent and automated investigative methods in criminal proceedings and analyzed their possibilities and limits.

The experts also discussed opportunities for practical implementation, along with the technical and functional requirements and limitations of such procedures. After all, the use of systems based on artificial intelligence harbors potential for discrimination and can lead to distortions and ultimately to problems of acceptance. The discussion also focused on future legal foundations that are essential for the implementation of automated investigative methods within a legally compliant framework. In view of the complexity and interdisciplinary nature of this topic, the participants in the Ladenburg Roundtable see due consideration of ethical aspects as necessary in addition to purely legal considerations.

Scientific director
  • Prof. Dr. Anja Schiemann, University of Cologne, Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law