A bot that helps people get out of traffic fines has helped 160,000 people get out of their tickets.
DoNotPay – a site that helps people find the best challenge to their parking tickets – has been used a quarter of a million times, according to its teenage creator Joshua Browder.
The service allows users to quickly find how they might be able to challenge parking tickets, and then quickly generates a letter to present to authorities. From beginning to end, people can have a successful challenge written in under a minute.
Of 250,000 challenges, 160,000 have led to people successfully having their fines cancelled, according to Mr Browder.
The bot was first released to the London public last Autumn. It has been gradually rolled out to other cities – which must be done gradually because each has a different system for fines – and has now made its way to New York.
The service works by letting having people chat to a robot that asks them questions to find out what was wrong with their ticket. They can include “Was it hard to understand the signs?” or “Do you think the parking bay was too small?”
The site will then use the information generated during that exchange to put together the most likely reason that someone’s parking ticket is invalid – then preparing them a letter that they can use to challenge it.
Mr Browder, who was born in London and now studies at Stanford University, says that the tool is used to help out people who are being exploited by local governments.
“I think the people getting parking tickets are the most vulnerable in society,” Mr Browder told VentureBeat. “These people aren’t looking to break the law. I think they’re being exploited as a revenue source by the local government.”
The teenager was compelled to create the bot after receiving 30 parking tickets within London
Mr Browder has used similar techniques on new chat bots. Those include one helping people with HIV understand their legal right, another that talks people through claiming compensation for delayed flights, and one that helps refugees apply for asylum.
He also hopes to develop a platform that would allow people to easily code their own legal help – without any computing knowledge. That would let legal experts create their own robot versions of themselves, helping people out with any legal issue that they have.
“I feel like there’s a gold mine of opportunities because so many services and information could be automated using AI, and bots are a perfect way to do that, and it’s disappointing at the moment that it’s mainly used for commerce transactions by ordering flowers and pizzas,” he told VentureBeat.
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