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‘Robot lawyer’ set to defend human in U.S. court

(NewsNation) —  A robot lawyer: Would you trust it? The world’s first robot lawyer is taking its first case in a U.S. courtroom next month.

The app called “DoNotPay” uses artificial intelligence (AI) and claims it can “fight corporations, beat bureaucracy and sue anyone at the press of a button.”

Joshua Browder, a 2018 Thiel fellow, invented DoNotPay. He said he started the company by accident.

“I’m originally from England and when I moved here, I was a terrible driver and began to accumulate all of these parking tickets. I couldn’t afford to pay these tickets as a young person, so I became a legal expert about all the reasons people can get out of parking tickets,” Browder said in a video on the company’s website. “At the same time, I was a software engineer and I was writing the same letter over and over again for myself and my friends. It became obvious that this is something that could so easily be automated.”

Browder says DoNotPay hopes to get clients out of parking tickets and fight for refunds from big companies like airlines.

“With parking tickets, there are hundreds of pages of rules the government doesn’t follow when they issue these tickets (…) People get parking tickets not necessarily because they did something wrong, but sometimes because the government is trying to make money and make up tax revenue,” Browder said.

According to Browder, DoNotPay works by asking what the legal problem is, finding a legal loophole and then inserting that loophole into a legal letter. Now, he’s taking his product to a courtroom.

“Lawyers are charging hundreds of dollars an hour for copying and pasting a few documents. Our vision at DoNotPay is to make the law free. The average person shouldn’t have to worry about paying all of this money just to get basic access to their rights,” Browder said in a video posted to the company’s website.

He added: “I want to make big companies scared to mess with people and rip them off. I want to be like the general counsel for the consumer and fight back against these issues.”

Reporting from the New Scientist says DoNotPay will run on a smartphone and listen to courtroom proceedings in February before telling the defendant fighting a speeding ticket what to say through headphones. Browder told NewsNation host Leland Vittert this marks the first time AI will be used in a physical courtroom.

The concept hasn’t come without pushback from lawyers.

“Lawyers are saying I should be in jail. They’re very angry because their profession is threatened. But we found two areas where the court rules don’t explicitly forbid AI and technology and electronic devices. It was a struggle finding courtrooms where this would be allowed, but we found two,” Browder said.

The identity of the defendant and the location of the court hearing have not been released. Browder believes if he revealed the courtroom locations in advance, the cases involving AI may be shut down.

Browder says billboard lawyers should be very worried with his invention, but insisted that DoNotPay will only be used for certain cases.

“We’re staying in our lane and definitely not defending people for murder. I think there have to be rules, but there’s no lawyer who’s going to get out of bed for a $500 Comcast refund. So that’s the perfect job for AI because it’s not replacing the lawyer, it’s serving an underserved kind of part of the legal industry,” Browder told NewsNation.

The company’s website says DoNotPay is not a law firm and is not licensed to practice law. Instead, the site says it aims to make legal information and self-help easier to access.

On Balance with Leland Vittert

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