The same artificial intelligence
(AI) tool that has been helping people cancel subscriptions, remove bogus charges, and lower their bills with little-to-no fuss is now turning its sights on fighting a speeding ticket. Pitched as the "world's first robot lawyer" by its developers, DoNotPay is headed to court, marking a monumental and controversial moment for AI.
Part of what makes this controversial is the legality of the whole situation. Many courtrooms strictly prohibit this kind of technology, though the developers of DoNotPa
y found a loophole. While not legal in all courtrooms, some judges allow the use of hearing aids, including ones with Bluetooth connectivity. DoNotPay CEO Joshua Browder sees that as an opening to allow AI into the courtroom, though he readily concedes that line of thinking falls into a murky gray area.
"It's within the letter of the law, but I don't think anyone could ever imagine this would happen," Browder told CBS News. "It's not in the spirit of law, but we're trying to push things forward and a lot of people can't afford legal help. If these cases are successful, it will encourage more courts to change their rules."
The other potential roadblock is that some states require that all parties consent to being recorded, thereby eliminating a scenario where a robot lawyer could listen to proceedings and provide legal advice and counterarguments to a defendant. With all that in mind, Browder and his team considered around 300 cases, of which only two made the cut. How it works is, the AI robot will listen to the court proceeding in real-time and tell the defendant how to respond.
Why go this route? According to Browder, the idea is to make capable legal representation more accessible to the general populace at large. Instead of paying a hefty fee for a flesh and blood lawyer, DoNotPay would provide the service for free, supposedly. DoNotPay already made headlines for being the first AI to successfully negotiate a Comcast bill, and this is simply taking this one step (albeit a giant one) further.
His idea is not being met without resistance. "There are lot of lawyers and bar associations that would not support this," he says, adding that after he tweeted about his plan to send his AI robot to court, he received threats from lawyers saying he'd end up in jail. But from his vantage point, this is merely an attempt to provide regular people with the kinds of tools that big companies have access to.
"What we are trying to do is automate consumer rights. New technologies typically fall into the hands of big companies first, and our goal is put it in hands of the people first," Browder said.
He's also rather confident in DoNotPay's ability to navigate the courtroom
—if the defendant loses their case, DoNotPay will foot the traffic fine. A small price to pay if this leads to the kind of change Browder and his team are hoping to see.