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Your own robo-caller never gets bored dialing automated services for you

October 10, 2018

Startup DoNotPay has created an automated service that’ll call the California DMV, the vehicle agency, to shorten your wait time for an appointment from months to days.

How it’s been done: Right now, to get a DMV appointment in California you either have to book directly and wait weeks until your date or pay a service to look for a cancellation.

The robots are calling: DoNotPay, a startup that provides easier ways to navigate the legal system, has created an app that deploys an automated robocaller to get you an earlier reservation. After the user inputs some basic information, it calls the DMV’s automated phone line to set up an appointment. To manage an earlier date, the bot then continues to call up to 1,000 times a day to see if a cancellation becomes available. (Listen in on one of the calls here.)

Human vs. bot: Yesterday, Google announced that it was granting more powers to a similar robocalling assistant known as Google Duplex, a human-sounding AI that makes reservations on your behalf. The system now identifies itself to human callers as a bot, following initial ethical concerns that arose when the service was first announced in May.

Bot vs. bot: Unlike Duplex, DoNotPay’s system is designed only to pit machines against each other. “I think it is unethical to have bots talking to humans on the phone, and this technology will only be used to talk to other bots,” says founder Joshua Browder (who was named one of our 2017 35 Innovators Under 35).

What’s next? The company is already testing the service for passport applications, Social Security services, and dealing with large corporations. “The DMV is the first step in making all government services automated and instant,” says Browder.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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