Joshua Browder believes parking tickets are a tax on the poor and really wants to make bots that help people. That’s why his free bot DoNotPay that fights parking tickets launches in Seattle next week.
Since creating DoNotPay bot last year he has helped 170,000 people in New York and London successfully dispute parking tickets, saving them millions of dollars. The parking ticket bot will come to the San Francisco Bay Area afterwards, he said.
“I think the next big step for me is going to be San Francisco parking tickets and even Bay Area parking tickets because for me it’s kind of hypocritical because I get so many parking tickets,” the 19-year-old Stanford student told VentureBeat on Skype. “I would love to like use my own product. And then homelessness — I’m looking to expand and then I’m working on these immigration projects as well.”
Browder has been pretty busy trying to make bots that fix the world.
Last week he launched a bot with the charity Centrepoint to help young homeless people in the United Kingdom find housing. His bot to help people who are HIV positive know their rights is due out in the coming weeks and one to help refugees seek asylum in Europe is due out next month. Each of these bots will be available on the DoNotPay website.
DoNotPay has made no money, Browder said. Every service he has provided so far has been for free.
A look at stories that mention DoNotPay or the bot to tackle homelessness in the past week finds posts from English-speaking news outlets around the world but also from publications written in Chinese, Swedish, Russian, and other languages.
As word of Browder’s bots spreads, ideas for other bots to address legal matters have come to Browder from Qatar, Nigeria, and a maximum security prison in Arizona.
From Nigeria: “The idea is these traffic cops are so corrupt when they pull you over that they try and charge you more than the legal fine actually is and they keep the difference so it would be a chatbot to tell you whether what the actual fine is for a specific events.”
Both in Seattle for the ticket-fighting bot and the U.K. for his bot to find homeless people housing, Browder said he has started to work with more lawyers.
“Well firstly they [Centrepoint] have lots of lawyers in house who are advising me. I’m not an expert in the law, especially homelessness law, so having their free legal help is really useful,” he said.
Browder has made some changes since DoNotPay launched a year ago.
He now tries harder to work directly with charities who reach the people he wants to help. The attention the homelessness bot received in the press helped, but more is needed to find people who may not have a phone to chat with a bot. He’s also working with more partners because he says he needs the help.
To manage the bots and juggle computer science courses at Stanford, Browder plans to work with more companies, charities, and entrepreneurs who share his vision for bots to be more than “flowers and pizza.”
The next semester at Stanford is one thing that causes him more stress than trying to tackling big challenges with bots.
“That’s a really tough issue for me. I mean I’ve been managing DoNotPay while I was in school,” he said. “I think in the future the advantages will go to people who know AI and stuff so it’s good to stay in school and try to learn it, but it’s going to be tough.”