Teen Created a Robot Lawyer App That Overturned 160,000 Parking Tickets

(ANTIMEDIA) Got a bullshit parking ticket? Now you can appeal it in less than a minute. The new chatbot tool, DoNotPay, uses previously successful appeal letters to draw up a customized template, allowing users to avoid courts, legal fees, stress, and having to use a lawyer.

So far, the free app has overturned 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York. With a success rate of 64%, DoNotPay has appealed $4 million in parking fines in just two cities in only nine months of operation. In 2014, New York City collected $546 million in revenue from parking tickets.

Stanford freshman Joshua Bowder created the app after spending an exorbitant amount of time crafting his own appeals for parking tickets. He read thousands of pages of documents related to parking tickets released under the Freedom of Information Act and consulted a traffic lawyer. Then, using PHP and Javascript, he created a conversation algorithm that aggregates keywords, pronouns, and word order. Like many chatbots, Browder’s app becomes more intelligent each time it is used.


DoNotPay is not commercial and Josh plans to keep it that way. In an interview with Anti-Media, Josh said he was driven by a sense of social justice and a desire to help vulnerable people who are exploited by policing-for-profit schemes. Josh also wants to use technology like artificial intelligence for humanitarian purposes.

He finds it “irritating and disappointing” that bots are usually created for vapid commercial uses. In reality, he says, algorithmic intelligence and chatbots are a “humanitarian goldmine.”

DoNotPay also assists with delayed or canceled flights, payment-protection insurance (PPI) claims, and even legally disclosing an HIV-positive health status.

Josh describes his creation as “the first robot lawyer.” People are describing him as the “Robin Hood of the Internet.”

“If it is one day possible for any citizen to get the same standard of legal representation as a billionaire,” Browder says, “how can that not be a good thing?”

Josh says government agencies have actually been supportive, even using it to test for glitches. He also received support from his friends, one of whom he says has created an app for scanning blood to test for the likelihood of malaria.

Josh wants to continue developing artificial intelligence applications for the public good. He’s spoken with entrepreneurs about how to use apps like this in conjunction with driverless cars.

What’s on the horizon? Josh’s summer project is an app to help Syrian refugees seek legal asylum. The chatbot he is planning would translate Arabic to English and then draw up legal paperwork.

Josh also plans to expand DoNotPay to Seattle.

This article (Teen Created a Robot Lawyer App That Just Overturned 160,000 Parking Tickets) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Jake Anderson and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: Charlston’s TheDigitel. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

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