The first artificial intelligence robot lawyer will not be used in court due to the threat of imprisonment
In short: Bad news for those excited about an AI-powered “robot lawyer” advising defendants in the courtroom: DoNotPay won’t use its AI to challenge a court case in court next month after the startup’s CEO was threatened with jail.
News that AI would represent the defendant, who is battling a speeding ticket on Feb. 22, came earlier this month. This suggested that an AI-equipped iPhone was to be placed in the defendant’s pocket. Combined with an earpiece and smart glasses, the defendant could record court hearings while the AI made arguments it hoped would win the case.
The system relies on AI text generators, including ChatGPT and DaVinci, writes NPR. DoNotPay is already using AI-powered email forms and chatbots to challenge parking tickets, bill cuts and other complaints.
The idea aroused great interest and was not without controversy. This would be the first time that someone has been defended in court by artificial intelligence, and it would be another step in the development of artificial intelligence.
Joshua Browder, CEO of DoNotPay, said the company had been threatened by several state bar associations because of its plans, and prosecutions and jail time had been raised as potential consequences of using the so-called robot lawyer. A member of the state bar noted that unauthorized practice of law is a misdemeanor in some states and is punishable by up to six months in county jail.
Good morning! Bad news: after receiving threats from State Bar prosecutors, it looks like they will put me in jail for 6 months if I follow through and bring a robot lawyer into a real courtroom. DoNotPay puts aside our legal case and sticks to consumer rights:
— Joshua Browder (@jbrowder1) January 25, 2023
“Even if it didn’t happen, the threat of criminal prosecution was enough to drop it,” he told NPR. “The letters became so frequent that we thought it was just a distraction and that we needed to move on.”
The California Bar has not specifically commented on the DoNotPay case, but has said it has a duty to investigate potential unauthorized legal practices. He added that there has been a recent surge in poor-quality legal representation that has emerged to fill a gap in available legal advice.
“They threatened to accuse us of unauthorized legal practice,” Browder confirmed. Other charges could also be brought against him, including interference with judicial practice.
Browder said the potential implications of using a robotic lawyer have distracted the company and it is now focusing on its “bread and butter” consumer rights. The CEO says DoNotPay has won over 2 million customer service disputes and litigation on behalf of individuals against institutions and organizations. He also wants to help people dealing with expensive medical bills, unwanted subscriptions and problems with credit agencies. Browder also said that the AI lawyer was supposed to help those who cannot afford their own representatives in court.
I’m pretty stressed out @Don’t pay and @jbrowder1 over the past couple of days, and many people have defended the service, saying it can be a real boon for those who otherwise can’t afford legal help.
— Kathryn Tewson (@KathrynTewson) January 24, 2023
Not everyone likes the DoNotPay service. Katherine Tewson tweeted that it’s “document wizard with a simple plug and play.”
Title: Francesco Tommasini