As a young programmer, Joshua Browder built a chatbot to act as a kind of AI lawyer that would help people dispute parking tickets. Not only did it work, but it was hugely popular, which led Browder to expand the program to help anyone harmed by the Equifax scandal sue the company in small claims court. Now his company, DoNotPay, is aiming even higher: by the end of this year, Browder plans to launch an addition to the platform that will you let you sue anyone.
“To be honest, Equifax was just a bit of testing for the product that would let anyone sue anyone,” Browder, one of 2017’s 35 Innovators under 35, said Wednesday at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech MIT conference. “The main use would be for taking down corporations.”
Wherever corporate malfeasance hurts regular people, Browder envisions DoNotPay’s platform coming to the rescue by allowing users to print out documents that they can take to small claims court instead of relying on class action suits and spending years in the appeals process.
“The corporations will just settle and say, ‘We will give you $1,000 if this goes away,’” Browder said. “Which is great, because it means they actually get punished for doing wrong.”
In addition to the Equifax test, Browder has been testing the software for individual disputes—like fighting your landlord. Next on his agenda? Automating the divorce process.
As for the pitfalls of such a system (everyone suing everyone—what could go wrong?), Browder’s biggest worry is that if his platform is as popular as its earlier iterations have been, the flood of lawsuits could swamp the legal system. Spurious lawsuits should be avoidable, he says, by building requirements into the program to weed them out.
“I think triaging people to make sure they do have a valid claim is important,” he said. “I don’t want it to just be filling in anything. It has to have a specific reason and match you to that.”
DoNotPay will also make it easy to use the platform repeatedly. If you input your name and address when you use the site for a parking ticket, Browder said, it will remember your information for the next time you use the platform to sue a large corporation.
“Traditionally, the powerful have used the legal system to intimidate people,” he said. “But similarly, everyone—normal people—could use the legal system to intimidate corporations.”
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