Do you feel like you've been unduly targeted and issued a parking ticket but the appeals process seems daunting? The DoNotPay chatbot has come in to assist -- and has played a part in overturning parking tickets worth over $4 million.
DoNotPay is the invention of Joshua Browder, a second-year Stanford University who received over 30 parking tickets around London in a matter of months. After attempting to go through the appeals process, Browder realized there were no online services which made the process easier and less stressful, and so took a summer out to create his own.
The 19-year-old's online system is what he calls the "world's first robot lawyer." To take the stress out of appeals, the chatbot uses an easy interface which facilitates a "chatroom" setup between someone who has received a ticket and the bot.
Once you've signed up, you are given 12 reasons for your defense. Pick one, plug in relevant details, and the chatbot will generate a free appeal to the council in question on your behalf.
The website has certainly proved popular. According to the Guardian, DoNotPay's creator says that in only 21 months, 160,000 out of 250,000 submitted parking ticket cases have been successfully appealed in London and New York.
The fines which have been quashed are worth an estimated $4 million.
Speaking to Venturebeat, Browder commented:
"I think the people getting parking tickets are the most vulnerable in society. These people aren't looking to break the law. I think they're being exploited as a revenue source by the local government."
Browder hopes to extend DoNotPay beyond London and New York to Seattle by fall, and the 19-year-old's comments on Twitter suggest that an "eventual expansion" could also reach South Africa.
The chatbot can also be used to generate compensation claims for fliers who have had their flights delayed by at least four hours. Eventually, Browder would like to see the AI used to help HIV-positive individuals understand their rights, as well as become a guide for asylum seekers.
Starting small with parking tickets and seeing the results shows this type of technology holds value in helping people navigate complicated legal systems by providing drilled-down advice without the usual costs of lawyers, solicitors and other legal fees.
Perhaps the success of this website will also make councils rethink their strategies when it comes to tickets -- and perhaps stop focusing on targets and focus on the legality and validity of tickets instead. Well, we can always hope.