For warehouse workers and truck drivers, the future does not look rosy. But those of us with more white collar gigs don't have to panic yet, right?

Well, maybe some of us do. Sorry, lawyers, we know you're already spinning from a lousy job market and tons of law school debt, but it looks like you're going to face competition from artificial intelligence sooner rather than later.

Meet DoNotPay. The brainchild of London-born Stanford University student Joshua Browder, the artificial intelligence-driven chatbot has already gotten 160,000 people out of parking tickets.

Got a routine legal problem? Chatbots to the rescue

"The program first works out whether an appeal is possible through a series of simple questions, such as were there clearly visible parking signs, and then guides users through the appeals process," reports the Guardian's Samuel Gibbs.

And it's getting pretty good results. "In the 21 months since the free service was launched in London and now New York, Browder says DoNotPay has taken on 250,000 cases and won 160,000, giving it a success rate of 64% appealing over $4m of parking tickets," Gibbs writes.

DoNotPay is coming to Seattle next, but the bot's creator also has bigger plans in mind. "Browder's next challenge for the AI lawyer is helping people with flight delay compensation, as well as helping the HIV positive understand their rights and acting as a guide for refugees navigating foreign legal systems," Gibbs explains.

Browder is also "exploring a developer platform that only requires legal knowledge, not a coding background, which could spawn further useful chatbots to help dispense simple legal advice without exorbitant fees."

Winners and losers

That's obviously fabulous news for those with aggravating legal woes and limited budgets, but it's also got to be a little worrying for lawyers. While robots are clearly a long, long way from replicating the oratorical savvy and strategic genius of top litigators, it looks like artificial intelligence is fully capable of taking on some of the routine legal tasks that make up the bread and butter of some less high-flying legal careers.

This fact illustrates the central truth about the increasing capabilities of artificial intelligence -- in the short-term there are winners and there are losers. Services like DoNotPay could be great for consumers, and VCs are salivating about the possibilities of chatbots, but dislocation looms for some workers.

Plus, local authorities are down some $4 million in revenue from bogus parking tickets. But it's hard to feel too bad for them.

Published on: Jun 30, 2016