Imagine this: You’re in a courtroom accused of breaking the law. Your future rests on your legal defense. But you didn’t hire an attorney who spent years in school studying the law and many more practicing it. You’re trusting a robot to win your case.
That could be the future, according to Joshua Browder, the CEO of DoNotPay, a startup that calls itself the world’s first robot lawyer.
“It’s pay to play in the current legal system. If you know the right lawyer, pay enough money, you can pay them to grease the wheels,” Browder said. “That’s not how society should work. It should be based on the facts and the law. And I think that if AI is introduced more into the legal system, especially to defend people, it can become more objective.”
Browder raised eyebrows this week when he tweeted a shocking proposal: His company DoNotPay wants to pay an attorney $1 million to argue a Supreme Court case wearing AirPods, only repeating exactly what the robot lawyer says.
Fact checkers are quick to point out that the Supreme Court bars electronic devices in the courtroom, making this scenario likely impossible. But despite that and no offers on the SCOTUS side, Browder said DoNotPay has heard from attorneys at the appeals court and district court levels.
“The lawyers were just going crazy at the idea of DoNotPay representing people in physical court rooms,” Browder said.
DoNotPay is preparing to test its lawyering skills in traffic court in February. After putting out the all call, Browder said DoNotPay got 300 offers from around the country to let the robot lawyer fight a speeding ticket. But so far, he said there are limited places where it’s legal to use a robot, so they’re testing it in the two places the company found where it’s not strictly against the rules.
Browder said the defendants will go before a judge wearing special glasses that also act as earphones. The company will pay for any imposed fines.
While applying the AI in a physical courtroom is new, DoNotPay is already applied in written form, helping customers lower bill amounts, cancel subscriptions, get refunds and get out of parking tickets. The company was last valued at $210 million in 2021.
Browder said DoNotPay is using the same technology as the up-and-coming chatGPT, called GPT3. DoNotPay has fed the robot data and documents from the past seven years and tells it to craft a defense using the provided data. But Browder acknowledges the AI is far from perfect.
“There are two things that worry us,” he said. “The first is, the robot tends to make things up. When we had disputes against Comcast going back and forth, the robot was just exaggerating. It was saying things like, ‘I had five internet outages in the past week,’ and all of this crazy stuff, which might be an effective strategy, but from a liability perspective, you can’t have a robot lie in court.”
To battle it, DoNotPay had to tell the robot not to exaggerate and stick to the information provided.
“Another issue is that the robot talks too much,” he added. “There are some things in human language where you don’t actually need a response. But with the Comcast dispute, again, the robot was saying, ‘Thank you,’ every two minutes. And so we have to stop that as well.”
He said to deal with these issues, DoNotPay built two AIs: one to decide whether to say something at all and the other to decide what to say.
Browder, who’s British, said he started the company in 2015. Coming from a country where they drive on the opposite side of the road, he said he had a hard time adjusting to traffic laws in the U.S. and would rack up really expensive tickets.
“Although I’m not the most sympathetic character, I learned that these corporations and governments, they give people tickets, not necessarily because people do things wrong, but to make money,” he said.
The way he sees it, many big companies have a business model of levying small fees on lots of people. A late fee of $10 isn’t worth fighting for most, but spread over a million people, the company can gobble $10 million.
“And that’s a great job for software to push back against that,” he said.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: Imagine you’re in a courtroom accused of breaking the law, your future rests on your legal defense. But you didn’t hire an attorney who spent years in school studying the law. No, you’re trusting a robot to win your case.
That’s the future. According to Joshua Browder, the CEO of DoNotPay, the startup that calls itself the world’s first robot lawyer, Joshua, thanks for joining me today.
JOSHUA BROWDER: Thank you for having me
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: I’m gonna start with your most ambitious proposal, let’s call it. You’re offering to pay a million dollars to any lawyer who’s arguing in front of the Supreme Court to wear air pods and argue their case by just repeating whatever the robot says. Now, I’ll be honest, it’s hard to put aside the logistical issue here, which is that the Supreme Court doesn’t allow electronic devices of any kind in the court. But I’m gonna try to put that aside for a second. And I’ll ask you first, have you had any takers?
JOSHUA BROWDER: The Supreme Court, we haven’t. But we’ve had appeals courts and district courts. Over 7 million people saw that tweet. And the lawyers were just going crazy at the idea of do not pay representing people in physical court rooms.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: Really? So what do you think is the draw here?
JOSHUA BROWDER: I think that a lot of Americans can’t afford legal help. And maybe the fancy Supreme Court cases can, but AI can be a really useful tool in helping people understand their legal rights. And we’ve been doing this for a while, over the last five years, we’ve submitted and won over 2 million cases over letters and email and sending angry letters and things like that. And now we’re like, this should be used in physical court rooms to help people too.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: Okay, so more practically, you are putting this into place in traffic court to start, tell me about how that’s going to work and when.
JOSHUA BROWDER: So I tweeted out in December, would anyone like to be the first AI caught traffic case, and millions of people saw that tweet and we got about 300 different offers from around the country. we picked two cases. And in our opinion, they’re the only two places where it’s legal to do all of this stuff. There’s so many rules and regulations around electronic devices, and also around practicing law with robots. But we found two where it’s not strictly against the rules. So these people will go into traffic court. And they’ll be wearing these special glasses that also act as earphones. And we will bring over the air what to say. Not these glasses, but similar.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: Okay, so when is this going to happen?
JOSHUA BROWDER: This is going to happen towards the end of February.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: And I gotta ask, What happens if the robot loses the case for these people?
JOSHUA BROWDER: So as part of our offer, we’ve agreed to pay all court fines related to the case. And people aren’t obliged to say exactly what the robot says, we want them to, so we’ll say, we’re going to pay them extra if they say exactly what the robots says.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: So there’s someone on the back end that’s inputting what the judge is saying, what the information on the case is, how does this work?
JOSHUA BROWDER: So when the judge or someone in the court says something, it gets transcribed by an AI, it’s called whisper AI by open AI, and then it gets fed into the robot AI, and it comes up with something to say, and then an artificial voice says what the ideal rebuttal should be.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: and this happens instantaneously enough for someone to be able to respond in real time in the court.
JOSHUA BROWDER: Yes, we’ve made it as quick as possible. The speed is not what worries us. There’s two things that worry us. The first is, the robot tends to make things up. When we had disputes against Comcast going back and forth, the robot was just exaggerating. It was saying things like, “I had five internet outages in the past week.” And all of this crazy stuff, which might be an effective strategy. But from a liability perspective, you can’t have a robot lie in court. So we’ve had to tell the robot stick to the information provided, Don’t exaggerate. Another issue is that the robot talks too much. There are some things in human language where you don’t actually need a response. But with the Comcast dispute, again, the robot was saying, thank you every two minutes. And so we have to stop that as well. So we’ve actually built two AIs one to even decide whether to say something and then the other to decide what to say.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: so a polite robot, but talkative nonetheless. How did you train this?
JOSHUA BROWDER: So do not pay has been around for a while, as I mentioned, we’re very good at sending angry letters. So we have about seven years of training data. And I’m sure your listeners have heard of chat GPT. And so we’re using the same technology as that, called GPT. 3. And what we’ve done is we fed out all of this data, all of these documents from the past seven years, and we’ve said based on all of these documents, craft a defense.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: could your AI pass the bar?
JOSHUA BROWDER: So a lot of researchers have actually put chatGPT to the test and got it to take the bar. And it gets about 70% right now. And so that’s good. And without retraining, it would probably get close to 90%. So I’m going to cautiously, optimistically say Yes.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: I know that your motivating factor here in this million dollar offer for the Supreme Court is to test this beyond Municipal Court, traffic court, and into a bigger system here. But the judicial system, it can be so subjective, you know, a lawyer needs to, they need to read the room, they need to read the judge, read the jury and then adjust their strategy accordingly. How could a robot lawyer do that?
JOSHUA BROWDER: I think that’s one of the greatest injustices, it’s pay to play in the current legal system. If you know the right lawyer, pay enough money, you can pay them to grease the wheels. And that’s really how society should, that’s not how society should work. It should be based on the facts and the law. And I think that if AI is introduced more into the legal system, especially to defend people, it can become more objective.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: The last valuation I saw for your company was back in 2021, valued at $210 million. So there’s obviously a business application here, I want to hear from you. And I think you mentioned it a little bit, but, the most practical, most widely used applications of do not pay.
JOSHUA BROWDER: So our mission, we’re doing this courtroom stuff as advocacy to open up the courts to AI. But our real business and products are automating consumer rights. We’ve built a suite of 200 features that get people money back on a daily basis, canceling subscriptions, getting people out of parking tickets, which you can use over letter, getting refunds from Southwest Airlines, all of these areas where these big companies and governments are ripping people off. In terms of where we want to take it, What we’re working on at the moment is medical bills. We think that AI is great to reduce maybe a $10,000 medical bill. And that’s a product that will be available to everyone, not necessarily just a court case with one or two people.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: Joshua, What’s your why?
JOSHUA BROWDER: I started the company in 2015. As you can probably tell from my British accent, I’m originally from England. So when I came here, I was used to driving on the other side of the road. But I was a terrible driver and got all of these really expensive parking tickets. And although I’m not the most sympathetic character, I learned that these corporations and governments, they give people tickets, not necessarily because people do things wrong, but to make money. Especially these big companies, they have this business model of concentrated benefit but spread out harm. So what I mean by that is Comcast can charge 1 million people $10 late fee, and they make $10 million, but the people getting charged $10, Obviously, it’s not even worth it for them to get justice. And that’s a great job for software to push back against that.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: Joshua Browder, CEO of do not pay. We’re looking forward to seeing how your robot lawyer does in court. Thank you so much.
JOSHUA BROWDER: Thank you.