Even as warnings of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) eroding the scope for human employment get direr, there would be very few who wouldn’t be in thrall of DoNotPay, a chatbot that doubles up as a lawyer—well, almost—and helps you wiggle out of paying fines for parking violations. Developed by Joshua Browder, a 19-year-old studying at Stanford, the chatbot has helped overturn 160,000 parking tickets issued in New York and London. This has saved users nearly £3 million. In under 30 seconds, DoNotPay evaluates your case for appeal—based on your replies to a series of questions, including whether there were clear parking restriction signs, whether the driver was in an emergency, like travelling to the hospital, etc—and if your case is deemed appealable, it walks you through the steps of appeal. It banks on a library of photos taken from the likes of Google Maps to demonstrate that relevant parking restriction signages were unclear or confusing to help motorists contest fines.
While definitely a loss for the local councils—with around 10 million parking tickets issued annually, local governments in the UK generate millions in revenue this way— this has meant DoNotPay, which started out as Browder’s “pet project” for family and friends has been used by 250,000 people. While the developer plans to expand the AI ‘lawyer’ to work out compensation for delayed flights, he is reportedly in talks with Facebook to get DoNotPay incorporated in Messenger.