“Come with me if you want to get off” says the Robot Lawyer (so does the Robot Masseuse), and you go with him, and he overturns your parking ticket, because he is a robot and judges are terrified of this new intelligent mechanical attorney.
Of course, I jest – I’m not talking about an actual robot, it's not made of metal, it doesn’t wear a cool helmet and it definitely doesn’t have a big gun that comes out of its leg. It’s actually a bot.
The robot lawyer in this case is a chat bot called DoNotPay that’s built into Facebook Messenger, and was created by a student called Joshua Browder at Stanford University. It aims to give people legal advice over the “information superhighway” and it’s all lovely and free to use. Nothing to be scared of (yet).
It took Browder just three months to make, between school and uni, and it’s already overturned way over 160,000 parking tickets, by using a set of simple questions and prompts to advise people whether they’ll have a leg to stand on in court. Of course, this success means that it’s now ready to expand away from just parking tickets, into, you know, more important things.
Next on the list is to get the robotic warrior helping refugees in the UK, US and Canada to claim asylum.
Browder told Business Insider: “"I originally started with parking tickets and delayed fights and all sorts of trivial consumer rights issues, but then I began to be approached by these non-profits and lawyers who said the idea of automating legal services is bigger than just a few parking fines. So I've since tried to expand into something more humanitarian.”
But how exactly will it help? Presumably not by using giant whirring blades and laser-pointed machine guns as intimidation tactics?
“There's this huge problem among immigration lawyers where the majority of their time is spent filling out forms rather than actually challenging the legal complexities of the case. So what this does, it takes down hundreds of details from individuals and automatically fills out [laborious forms]”.
Much better – nobody likes filling out forms.
Browder had help from lawyers and non-profit organisations to perfect the app and to make sure it knows what it’s talking about, unlike Tay, for example. Best to forget about Tay.
It launches tomorrow, and presumably it will be a mere 24 hours before it becomes sentient and creates an army of deadly cybernetic lawyers who will proceed to take over the entire world. Still, at least in the apocalyptic wasteland of 2018, there’ll be no such thing as parking fines.