A new app is aiming to democratize the legal world through the power of artificial intelligence. Human attorneys tend to be quite expensive, but it turns out robot lawyers are cheap.
The app, called “DoNotPay,” is billed as “the world’s first robot lawyer.”
It uses “artificial intelligence to help consumers fight against large corporations and solve their problems like beating parking tickets, appealing bank fees, and suing robocallers,” according to the app’s website.
Here’s how it works, via CBS News: The “AI-creation runs on a smartphone, listens to court arguments and formulates responses for the defendant,” and the “AI lawyer tells the defendant what to say in real-time, through headphones.”
According to CBS News, the app will “be the first of its kind to help a defendant fight a traffic ticket in court next month,” and the company behind the app says that it has already “used AI-generated form letters and chatbots to help people secure refunds for in-flight Wifi that didn’t work, as well as to lower bills and dispute parking tickets, among other issues.”
The “DoNotPay” app is yet another example of “generative artificial intelligence,” technology that can generate text and other forms of content in response to human commands.
Generative AI has attracted considerable attention from investors since last month’s release of “ChatGPT,” a chatbot from the San Francisco-based lab OpenAI that created a sensation with its music and stories.
The New York Times reported last week that more than a million people have used “ChatGPT,” and that OpenAI “is in talks to complete a deal that would value it at around $29 billion, more than twice its valuation in 2021.”
CBS News reported that DoNotPay “has raised $27.7 million from tech-focused venture capital firms, including Andreessen Horowitz and Crew Capital.”
“In the past year, AI tech has really developed and allowed us to go back and forth in real time with corporations and governments,” DoNotPay CEO Joshua Browder told CBS News. “We spoke live [with companies and customer service reps] to lower bills with companies; and what we’re doing next month is try to use the tech in a courtroom for the first time.”
The proliferation of artificial intelligence has set off plenty of alarm bells. As Politico noted in a story this week about DoNotPay, “the public release of increasingly advanced AI tools has raised questions about everything from high school plagiarism to the very essence of what it is to be human.”
And while many have found chatbots to be fun, a robot lawyer might just be too creepy for some.
It also happens to be illegal in many jurisdictions.
“Some courts allow defendants to wear hearing aids, some versions of which are bluetooth-enabled. That’s how Browder determined that DoNotPay’s technology can legally be used in this case,” CBS News reported. “However, the tech isn’t legal in most courtrooms. Some states require that all parties consent to be recorded, which rules out the possibility of a robot lawyer entering many courtrooms. Of the 300 cases DoNotPay considered for a trial of its robot lawyer, only two were feasible.”
Browder told CBS that it’s “within the letter of the law, but I don’t think anyone could ever imagine this would happen.”
“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,” Browder said.