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    Consider a scenario
    where an individual
    is brought before a
    court on suspicion
    of grave offenses.
    Incriminating actions
    are captured in recorded
    videos, seemingly providing concrete
    evidence. However, the accused contests the
    charges, admitting that they appear in the
    video but asserting their innocence. Their
    defense attorney raises a plausible argument,
    suggesting that the images could be AI
    (Artificial Intelligence) -generated, casting
    doubt on the authenticity of the evidence.
    In the realm of criminal justice, the phrase
    “guilty beyond any reasonable doubt”
    holds immense significance. It serves as a
    cornerstone of the legal system, ensuring that
    individuals accused of crimes are afforded
    a fair trial and protection against wrongful
    convictions. This principle sets a high
    standard of proof that the prosecution must
    meet to secure a conviction, emphasizing
    the gravity of taking away a person’s liberty
    based on evidence that leaves no room for
    reasonable uncertainty.
    In an era where AI apps can seamlessly
    generate lifelike images and videos of
    individuals purportedly engaging in criminal
    activities, the reliability of visual evidence

    has been called into question. These AI-
    generated images and videos are often so

    meticulously crafted that they can mirror
    a person’s appearance and even replicate
    their voice with astonishing accuracy. This
    technological advancement raises concerns
    about the potential for misinformation,
    manipulation, and the erosion of trust in
    visual evidence within legal proceedings.
    The phrase “guilty beyond any reasonable
    doubt” now faces a fresh dimension of
    interpretation. As AI blurs the lines between
    reality and fabrication, legal systems must
    grapple with redefining what constitutes
    reasonable doubt in the context of visual
    evidence. The challenge lies in distinguishing

    between authentic recordings and AI-
    generated content, as well as determining the

    origin and integrity of such evidence.
    Convictions based on footage and videos.
    The Torah’s stance on relying on footage or
    videos for incrimination is subject to scrutiny.
    The Talmud (דר״ה פ״ב (provides insights
    into this matter through its discussions on
    determining the commencement of a new
    month. The process involves the sighting
    of the new moon, where two witnesses
    present their testimony to the Bet Din in
    Yerushalayim. Upon verifying the veracity
    of the witnesses’ claims, the Bet Din declares
    the start of the new month.
    In the discourse surrounding the reliability of
    sheds) ראש השנה כד,א) Gemara the ,testimony
    light on a specific scenario. It teaches us that

    if witnesses happen to witness not the moon
    itself but merely its reflection, such as on
    water, their testimony is deemed invalid, and
    the Bet Din does not endorse it. Drawing a
    parallel, the Sefer Halachot Ketanot (פב סימן (
    draws an analogy with witnessing the moon’s
    reflection in a mirror, asserting that this, too,
    would be rejected by the court.
    ברכי יוסף חו״מ סימן לה) Chida the ,However
    יא אות (presents an alternative perspective.
    He contends that a mirror’s reflection might
    indeed constitute valid testimony due to its
    heightened clarity when compared to the
    reflection on water. Consequently, he posits
    that this clarity renders the mirror’s testimony
    Applying these insights to modern contexts,
    certain authorities permit the use of images
    from photos or videos as evidence, provided
    they exhibit a high degree of clarity. . (עיין
    יבי״א ח״ו אבה״ע ס״ג, וכן התיר בשו״ת עין יצחק
    (אבה״ע סי‘ לא אות ג
    This consideration emerges from the notion
    that if a clear and accurate representation is
    offered, it aligns with the Torah’s emphasis
    on reliable testimony.
    Torah’s Uncompromising Standard of
    In Torah perspectives, the principle of being
    “guilty beyond any reasonable doubt” takes a
    more stringent form. The Torah’s requirement
    for conviction exceeds reasonable doubt—
    it demands absolute certainty. The Torah
    requires witnesses to see the crime firsthand
    and not depend on convincing circumstantial
    This rigorous approach is supported by
    the Torah’s directive in the verse “שמות
    ז כג“, which states, (“And the guiltless
    and righteous do not slay”). This signifies
    that unless a person is directly witnessed
    committing the crime, they remain free from
    guilt. Another verse, emphasizes (“protect
    the assembly”), highlighting the obligation to
    shield the accused.
    Certainly, we are familiar with the Mishna’s
    proclamation that a Sanhedrin, the Jewish
    court, which pronounces the death penalty
    merely once every 7 years (with some
    opinions extending the period to even 70
    years), is characterized as a “deadly Bet
    (מכות א,י) “.Din
    This exacting approach is evident in
    various Talmudic and Halachic references,
    emphasizing an unshakable commitment to
    Illustrating Torah’s Rigorous Legal
    An illustrative example is found in a story
    recounted by Rabbi Shimon ben Shatach
    (ב,לז סנהדרין(. He witnessed an individual
    pursuing another with a knife in hand. They
    entered an abandoned building, and upon the
    rabbi’s entrance, he discovered the pursuer
    holding a bloodied knife while the victim

    lay fatally wounded. Rabbi Shimon ben
    Shatach, however, acknowledged that Torah
    law didn’t permit him to convict the pursuer.
    Despite witnessing these circumstances,
    the rabbi emphasized that he couldn’t be a
    witness to the actual stabbing because he
    didn’t actually see the crime. Furthermore,
    Torah law stipulates the necessity of two
    witnesses for a conviction. Although
    the rabbi refrained from legal action, he
    admonished the pursuer, predicting divine
    retribution upon him.
    Financial Obligations Hinge on Direct
    This approach isn’t limited to capital
    punishment cases; it extends to obligatory
    financial responsibilities as well. Only when
    witnesses have firsthand knowledge can they
    impose a requirement for payment.
    The Talmud delves further into legal
    principles by recounting a unique incident
    involving a camel. This particular camel
    exhibited aggressive behavior by attacking
    other camels through biting and kicking.
    Witnesses were present during an episode
    where the unruly camel was on a rampage.
    Soon after, the witnesses stumbled upon
    another camel, lifeless, in close proximity
    to the wild camel. However, crucially, these
    witnesses hadn’t directly seen the actual
    killing take place.
    The Gemara proceeds to relay an interesting
    perspective offered by Rav Acha. He asserted
    that the owner of the disruptive camel
    should indeed be held accountable for the
    damages incurred. In his view, the witnessed
    aggressive behavior of the camel, coupled
    with the subsequent discovery of the dead
    camel, was sufficient evidence to obligate the
    owner for compensation.
    However, when examining this scenario
    in accordance with Halacha, the outcome
    diverges. It is determined that the owner
    of the wild camel is exempt from financial
    responsibility. The rationale behind this
    ruling lies in the fact that, according to
    Halacha, direct witnessing of the actual
    killing is a prerequisite for imposing such
    liability. Since the witnesses in this case
    hadn’t observed the precise moment of the
    killing itself, the owner is not held culpable
    under Halacha.
    This illustration underscores the Torah’s
    stringent criteria for conviction, which
    necessitates guilt beyond any doubt. The
    standard of “beyond reasonable doubt” is not
    sufficient according to Torah standards.
    Convicting upon robust evidence:
    Conversely, there exist cases where
    circumstantial evidence is so robust that it
    defies any alternative explanation. In such
    instances, the Torah permits conviction or
    obligation based on this compelling evidence.
    (חו״מ סימן צ סעיף טז) Aruch Shulchan The
    provides an example that exemplifies this

    principle. It discusses the scenario of two
    individuals entering an empty house with
    no alternative entrance. These individuals
    emerge, and one of them bears a wound
    that can only be explained by the other
    causing it – for instance, a wound between
    the shoulders or on the back. The absence of
    any other plausible explanation makes this
    circumstantial evidence substantial enough
    for conviction.
    Another case mentioned in the Tur (שם(
    involves a person entering a location
    containing certain objects, and upon exiting,
    the objects are mysteriously absent. Since
    no one else was present in the room at that
    time, and there is no other access point, the
    only reasonable inference is that the person
    must have stolen the items. Thus the Halacha
    obligates him to either return the items or pay
    for them.
    These examples accentuate the Torah’s
    nuanced approach to evidence, the principle
    of “beyond any doubt,” sometimes meet the
    circumstantial evidence to be so conclusive
    that it leaves no room for doubt. These
    scenarios reflect the balanced and just
    perspective the Torah brings to legal matters,
    ensuring a careful weighing of evidence
    while upholding the principles of justice.
    Summing up these concepts, it’s evident that
    convicting someone solely based on photos
    or videos, however accurate they may appear,
    is no longer viable. The advancements in
    today’s AI technology not only fail to meet
    the criteria of being “beyond a doubt” but
    also fall short of the standard of “beyond a
    reasonable doubt.”
    In light of the complexities brought about
    by AI, the straightforward nature of visual
    evidence is challenged. While these
    technological advances offer incredible
    potential, they also introduce new layers
    of uncertainty in legal proceedings. This
    highlights the importance of a comprehensive
    and critical assessment of evidence in a
    rapidly evolving technological landscape.
    This marks the beginning of a series
    addressing the novelty of challenges posed
    by artificial intelligence from a Halacha
    perspective. In the upcoming installment,
    we will delve into the question of whether
    a Bet Din can supersede the aforementioned
    challenge. Stay tuned for next week’s