Chatbot lawyer overturns 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York


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I like to see a bot for helping people sue Microsoft
for installing Windows 10 when they didn’t want it.


Lawyers are hardly a group that can expect much sympathy concerning their labor-related woes, but the fact that robots are already cutting even into their arena is a bit worrying in general.


Starting with these areas that are presumably not normally worth a lawyer’s time. No one is going to pay a lawyer for advice to figure out if you can appeal a parking ticket. There’s probably a whole range of small-claims type stuff where people can get by with a tool like this.


In a country where schools don’t teach kids what laws there are, I say any additional legal education above zero is valuable.


Yeah, sure. This is mostly sub-economic stuff. So there are probably still two or three years ahead of us before it really starts cutting into revenue. I have a strong feeling simple contract bots are next.


can’t wait till bots start bringing cases against other bots.


Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I’m just a chatbot. I was cobbled together out of legal textbooks and markov chain algorithms by some of your programmers. Your Turing Test frightens and confuses me! Sometimes when I get a text message on my app, I wonder: “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” I don’t know! My AI can’t grasp these concepts. But there is one thing I do know - when a man like my client gets a parking ticket on a street with unclear signage, then he is entitled to no less than two million in compensatory damages, and two million in punitive damages. Thank you.


Bring on the real estate agent bots. I’m genuinely surprised that they have manged to avoid internet disruption so far.


I’m sure they are feeling the pressure. But still - people actually have to see the house/apartment in person and so somebody has to guide them through and, ideally, skillfully persuade them (which is almost by definition outside the realm of robots - nobody wants to be the person that got talked into something by a bot). And there will always be owners who either don’t have the time or the nerves to deal with all the prospective buyers - so there is still an area of non-automatible performance involved.

With contracts? You just need a piece of paper that you can be reasonably sure is enforceable and binds the parties to do what they’d agreed to. If it’s a machine that spits it out - well so much better for the consumer, I suppose.


The R2D2 defence is gonna make the Chewbacca defence look like top-flight legal wrangling.
‘I… think the defence rests, M’Lud’


This is pretty much the perfect comment… You are fabulous and win one internet today.


I was thinking about disruption more along the lines of changing payment from being a commission (percentage) to a fee. As well, any agents of the buyer or seller should be paid by the person that they represent. When the seller pays the buyers agent, that agent is no longer working for the buyer.


Is there any meaningful difference? Going through this right now, but the point is that they get paid by whoever the seller ends up being, out of the net proceeds, rather than being a specific seller’s bought and paid for person. If you walk away from a house they just get paid when you pick the right one, and at least in my area that fee is a flat 3% no matter which seller they’re working with.

It’s like arguing that a lawyer working pro bono isn’t your lawyer, because he doesn’t get paid unless you win and fees are covered.


It’s like arguing that a lawyer working pro bono isn’t your lawyer,
because he doesn’t get paid unless you win and fees are covered.

That’s not a bad analogy. A lawyer working on contingency isn’t going to sue somebody that is judgement proof. Likewise, if you are buying a house, your agent might not show you FSBO (for sale by owner) homes unless the listing promises them a certain percentage.


I think the FSBO thing is definitely a valid concern actually - there’s an established ‘system’ of information that real estate uses and that requires both sellers and buyers to be plugged in, and FSBO gets locked out of it.

On the other hand, I suspect that you could just offer to pay a real estate agent the fee to show you FSBO houses out of pocket and they would, it just isn’t a fun little guaranteed cost, and 3% is a big deal in many areas - in my county the median home price is $650k so 3% is almost $20k that you probably won’t be able to take out as part of your loan.

Also thanks for the clarification, I meant contingency when I said pro bono.


In practice, haven’t ‘robots’ been nibbling at the low end of legal work since whoever first introduced a book of fill-in-the-blanks standard contracts for common things like rental agreements?

Those sorts of standard contracts are obviously useless or highly risky for anything serious or slightly atypical; but I know I’ve had multiple landlords use them; and for common transactions that are all pretty similar it’s hard to make the case for a lawyer reinventing the wheel every time.

These expert systems are certainly a step up, but it’s similarly hard to make the case for a lawyer if all you are doing is traversing a relatively simple decision tree, as seems to be the case for putting together a ‘I contest my parking ticket for the following reason(s)’ statement.


Why doesn’t anyone seem concerned that 160,000 bullshit tickets were issued?


[emphasis mine]

Maybe if you’re buying a house, but not necessarily if you’re renting. I had to find a new place earlier this year, and I saw two or three places where they just gave me the lock-box code and let me wonder around all by my lonesome.

And that’s just the ones I saw in person – there were a bunch of places that you could only see if you were willing to give up your mobile number and charge $.99 to your credit card. I didn’t see any of those places because I wasn’t about to let some sketchy third party web site have my CC auth, and the T&C I bothered to read seemed like thinly veiled admissions of liability for the property, like they could charge me if something was damaged after I viewed the place. Fuck that.

I emailed one property management company to ask if I could get a person to show the place, and their response was that they didn’t have the staff to be able show their available properties in person. I concluded that if I couldn’t get their attention when I wanted to give them money, there was no way I’d get it after I’d signed a lease and they already had my money.


Anyway, my point w/rt to automation is basically this: self service is not the same thing as customer service.


Do you have any idea how many laws there are? They are uncountable. We have legions of legislators cranking out new ones at the local, state, and federal level (and others) and armies of lawyers and judges making up new ones (or new interpretations of them) daily. Would be like having the schools teach the kids about each individual grain of sand dirt in the universe. And besides - Buttle, Tuttle, what’s the difference? With enough laws, everyone’s guilty of something!

I’ve never bought a house, but my understanding is that a big part of what real estate agents do is guide people through the mountains of bureaucracy regarding inspections, building codes, loans, mortgages, bizarro rules, insurance, homeowners associations, credit agencies, utilities, and other nonsense, and helping to organize/manage all the dozens of participants involved. Some of the stories that I’ve heard were so illogical that the idea of automating them with a machine that just does logic seems likely to be rather difficult.