Thursday, August 18, 2016

More Subterfuge from our Robot Overlords

First they come for your jobs, now they seek to surpass your humanity.
The young British coder whose simple "robot lawyer" chatbot has overturned more than 170,000 unlawful parking tickets in the UK and America has set his sights on solving homelessness by providing people with basic legal advice.

An update to his DoNotPay bot works by asking users a simple set of questions about their circumstances, before advising them on the best course of action—often helping them draft an effective form letter to apply to their local councils for emergency housing. Councils have to take every letter seriously, and using Freedom of Information requests, he's researched the best ways to prompt them into acting on his bot's clients' behalf.

The bot's creator, Joshua Browder, a 19-year-old Brit studying at Stanford University in California, told Ars that since the update launched last Wednesday "almost every local government in the UK has signed up for the website."

"I can see on the back end that they are actively trying out the service for themselves," he added. He's also working with Centrepoint, one of the UK's largest and most recognisable homelessness charities, with volunteer lawyers helping out to finesse the legal advice his bot provides.

DoNotPay was originally a chatbot which simply advised people on the best ways to legally get out of parking tickets issued by local authorities in London and New York. He says the service has a success rate of about 64 percent, appealing more than £3 million of fines. 

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