15 Dec 2016, IOS Press

Can Robots Write Treaties? Using Recurrent Neural Networks to Draft International Investment Agreements

Book chapter by Wolfgang Alschner and Dmitriy Skougarevskiy in JURIX 2016 Conference Proceedings, pp. 119-124

Abstract: Negotiating international investment agreements is costly, complex, and prone to power asymmetries. Would it then not make sense to let computers do part of the work? In this contribution, we train a character-level recurrent neural network (RNN) to write international investment agreements. Benefitting from the formulaic nature of treaty language, the RNN generates texts of lawyer-like quality on the article-level, but fails to compose treaties in a legally sensible manner. By embedding RNNs in a user-controlled pipeline we overcome this problem. First, users can specify the treaty content categories ex ante on which the RNN is trained. Second, the pipeline allows a filtering of output ex post by identifying output that corresponds most closely to a user-selected treaty design benchmark. The result is an improved system that produces meaningful texts with legally sensible composition. We test the pipeline by comparing predicted treaties to actually concluded ones and by verifying that our filter captures latent policy preferences by predicting the outcome of current investment treaty negotiations between China and the United States.

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