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Judging the Automated State: The Reformation of Administrative Law for the Coming Age of Algorithmic Government in Hong Kong under Chinese Sovereignty

Eric C. Ip

Funding Scheme : General Research Fund

Project number: 17619823

Project Title (in English and Chinese) :

Judging the Automated State: The Reformation of Administrative Law for the Coming Age of Algorithmic Government in Hong Kong under Chinese Sovereignty


Principal Investigator: Eric C. Ip

Co - Investigator(s) : Kwok, Kelvin Hiu Fai

Exercise Year : 2023 / 24

Fund Approved : HK$ 457,140

Completion Date : 31-12-2026

Abstract as per original application (English/Chinese):

All over the world governments and public bodies have begun resorting to artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithmic decision–making to deliver supposedly more efficient, accurate, and consistent decisions in matters ranging from crime prevention and national security to taxation, health care, and social welfare. As a leading international financial centre, the only common law jurisdiction in East Asia, and a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China embodying the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle, Hong Kong is no more an exception to this trend than its neighbour, the Chinese Mainland. New plans to convert the Region into a ‘smart city’ feature a heavy dose of ‘smart government’, which would proliferate deployment of big data analytics, chatbots, smart lampposts, digitalised licensing systems, automation of customs clearance and certain immigration services, and so on, all in the name of improving the delivery of public services. Despite its promise, however, algorithmic government driven by machine learning raises a horde of concerns, such as pervasive surveillance, the lack of transparency for ordinary people, and encoded biases, which are in serious tension with the rule of law and natural justice, principles directly or indirectly enshrined in the Hong Kong Basic Law. At the same time, all over the common law world, the administrative law that principally regulates public administrators is lagging behind the rapid strides being made in automating public administration. It is becoming ever more urgent to adapt administrative law principles more adequately to the needs and demands of the coming age of algorithmic government, before it is too late to conserve their exceptional contribution to liberty and justice. This study will undertake an original, unprecedented case study of Hong Kong under Chinese sovereignty, to offer something of originality and significance to the literatures on comparative administrative law and the law of AI. It will explore the current state of the art of smart government, the shortcomings of the incumbent administrative law regime in securing transparent, fair public sector use of AI, and propose reforms to judicial doctrine, legislation, and institutions that could make administrative law and justice fit for purpose in the coming age of the automated administrative state in this part of the world.

世界各地的政府和公共機構都開始採用人工智能和算法決策來提供更高效、準確和一致的決策:從預防犯罪和國家安全,到稅收、醫療保健和社會福利。作為領先的國際金融中心、東亞唯一的普通法司法管轄區,以及體現「一國兩制」原則的中華人民共和國特別行政區,香港也不例外。將香港特區轉變為 「智慧城市」的新計劃,把香港特區打造成一個「智慧城市」,其特點是大量採用「智慧政府」式大數據分析、聊天機器人、智能燈柱、數字化發牌系統、出入境服務的自動化等等,以改善公共服務的質素。儘管前景廣闊,由機器學習驅動的運算法政府引發大量擔憂,如無處不在的監控、缺乏透明度以及數碼偏見等問題,可能與《香港基本法》及《香港人權法案》直接或間接規定的法治和自然正義原則發生嚴重衝突。與此同時,在整個普通法世界,主要規範公共行政人員的行政法,落後於公共行政自動化的快速發展。為了保護行政法原則對自由和正義的特殊貢獻,在為時已晚之前,讓行政法原則更充分地適應即將到來的算法政府時代的需求,變得越來越緊迫。本研究將對中國香港進行史無前例的原創性案例研究,為比較行政法和人工智能法的文獻提供一些原創性的重要內容。它將探討智能政府的藝術現狀,現行行政法制度在確保公共部門透明及公平地使用人工智能方面的不足之處,並提出司法理論、立法和制度改革建議,使行政法和司法機構,充分適應即將到來的世界自動化行政時代。

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