Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
×
IT Technology

Creator of Chatbot that Beat 160K Parking Fines Now Tackling Homelessness (theguardian.com) 93

An anonymous reader writes: The chatbot lawyer that overturned hundreds and thousands of parking tickets is now tackling another problem: homelessness. London-born Stanford student Joshua Browder created DoNotPay initially to help people appeal against fines for unpaid parking tickets. Dubbed "the world's first robot lawyer", Browder later programmed it to deal with a wider range of legal issues, such as claiming for delayed flights and trains and payment protection insurance (PPI). Now, Browder, 19, wants his chatbot to provide free legal aid to people facing homelessness. He said: "I never could have imagined a parking ticket bot would appeal so much to people. Then I realised: this issue is bigger than a few parking tickets." In an interview with the Washington Post, the 19-year-old said he decided to expand the bot's capabilities after DoNotPay began receiving messages about evictions and repossessions. In February this year tenant evictions reached the highest on record.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Creator of Chatbot that Beat 160K Parking Fines Now Tackling Homelessness

Comments Filter:
  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Friday August 12, 2016 @10:48AM (#52691019)
    A Good Start.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 12, 2016 @10:56AM (#52691083)

    Non-paying tenants are the scum of the earth. They are literally taking food out of the mouths of their landlords. The landlord-tenant courts are absurdly pro-tenant as is and delay evictions for 6-12 months as a matter of course as is. Most landlords are not Donald Trumps. They are middle class people who own 1-3 units. A single non-paying tenant can and often does put them on the brink of bankruptcy. This isn't a good thing. People who cant afford their housing need to move and find cheaper housing. They shouldn't get 6-12 months at someone else's expense to do it.

    • by Tx ( 96709 ) on Friday August 12, 2016 @11:15AM (#52691185) Journal

      I don't see anything in the article about the bot fighting evictions of non-paying tenants. It's talking about helping people who are already homeless to successfully apply for emergency council housing, and helping them get in touch with housing charities.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by beelsebob ( 529313 )

      Right, I feel really sorry for the landlord who has enough money to buy two houses, taking food out of his mouth is *terrible* compared to taking food out of the mouth of the person who can't even afford the basics of staying in some shelter somewhere.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Right, I feel really sorry for the landlord who has enough money to buy two houses, taking food out of his mouth is *terrible* compared to taking food out of the mouth of the person who can't even afford the basics of staying in some shelter somewhere.

        1) Many landlords don't have "enough" money, they take out loans (and have to pay them back using rental income) to buy rental properties.

        2) Why should the landlord be responsible for providing rent-free housing for their tenants? Some of whom are perfectly c

        • Note - I never said "I think it's reasonable to not pay a landlord". Instead, merely pointed out that phrasing it as "look at that bastard taking food out of the landlord's mouth" is pretty ridiculous when you've got someone too poor to pay for shelter on the other end of the equation.

      • taking food out of his mouth is *terrible* compared to taking food out of the mouth of the person who can't even afford the basics of staying in some shelter somewhere.

        It doesn't work that way. Rentals are a business, and they will be priced to make an acceptable return on investment. So if tenants have a "right" to stay in the property without paying rent, that cost will be built into the rent, and paid by the other tenants. It also means that people with poor credit will not be allowed to rent even if they have the money. If you look at jurisdictions with strong tenant rights, such as SF or NYC, they also have high rents and onerous tenant application processes. In

    • Having been a Landlord. They also need to take the ethical concerns on what service they are offering. And like many highly regulated areas, it is because there had been historical abuse in such field.
      As a landlord you are offering a key part of a person's survival and well being. Now the landlord had cases where they evict people for a bunch of stupid reasons. And without such legal reasons the person will get kicked out and the apartment will get replaced well before any legal action can happen. So the

    • by PrimaryConsult ( 1546585 ) on Friday August 12, 2016 @01:29PM (#52692283)

      The solution to this is any one of the following:
      1. only be a landlord in areas without those silly requirements
      2. charge a rent high enough to cover such eventualities

      You've basically explained exactly why rents in SF are so high. SImply not worth the hassle, try your luck in Denver or any Texas city....

    • Non-paying tenants are the scum of the earth. They are literally taking food out of the mouths of their landlords.

      Landlords are the scum of the earth. They are literally keeping others under their foot for their own profit.

      • Many things in SF aren't rent controlled. Among other things, anything newer than June 13, 1979, which is a lot since SF had a boom starting in the 90s of new condo-like construction.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        You wot mate?

        I like renting. I'm lazy, and I like problems to be someone else's. I value the service provided, not just by the property management company that that replaces the water heater and takes car of the greenery and roofing work without any effort from me, but the property owner, who provides the up-front capital so I don't have to. Sure, I could buy a condo, but I don't want the risk, so I'm glad someone else does.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Friday August 12, 2016 @11:01AM (#52691107) Homepage
    disclaimer: I work to prosecute housing discrimination. im not your attorney though.
    after the 1964 civil rights amendment landlords needed new tools to continue the systemic policy of redlined districs in light of things like equal housing policies and anti-discrimination ordinances. They largely found it in Reagans call for a "lawful" society and began instituting policies to reflect "lawfulness" in their rental applications. tenants could now be refused for prior criminal record, poor credit, no credit, lack of a drivers license, bank account, even washing their car outside or having expired tags on their car which would have it towed by a private company at a housing authorities discretion. the idea was to antagonize and outright shun poor people into a market created especially for them.

    existing tenements apartments like cabrini green did not have much in the way of requirements for housing other than section 8. Cabrini was a repository for low income black renters and designed to continue a housing segregation policy into the 21st century, but it began to fail after systemic poverty gave rise to sectarian violence and outright block warfare that chewed up a dozen or more cops a year. the solution for Cabrini was to demolish it, renovate the space, and the tenants would then be allowed to return. but it did not work that way. new landlords began instituting the same policies in Cabrini that landlords from the sixties used to prevent access to middle class neighbourhoods for upwardly mobile black families. the result was displacement, and unaccountable gentrification at the expense of a community thats been largely ignored.

    to fix the homeless crisis in america means we need to address things like systemic racism, the boom bust cycle of poverty and inequality in american capitalism, and the ability for landed gentry to impose arbitrary restriction on any number of free living conditions to police and enforce what essentially turn into their own mini cities and states. the bot proposed can help with things like overzealous prosecutors and cities that have an unwritten debtors prison policy, but it will do nothing to prevent unscrupulous lenders and collections agencies from hounding the poor and ruining credit scores required for upward mobility.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How is wanting you to pay your rent on time, as you agreed to, racist???

      If renters cannot pay the rent, buh-bye. Just like if you cannot afford an iPhone, you don't get one because you a not white. You don't get one because you don't pay.

    • by liquid_schwartz ( 530085 ) on Friday August 12, 2016 @11:52AM (#52691471)
      I'm normally fairly civil on the internet but if you support Section 8 then I can only hope that you die and soon. Section 8 is an insult to every hard working American and supports generational poverty while simultaneously enriching the already rich. In short just about everything bad is embodied in Section 8. The rich get guaranteed government checks, the poor get free housing and spread more crime (citation below) and the middle class just gets the shaft as usual.

      Citation: http://www.theatlantic.com/mag... [theatlantic.com]

      • by Zak3056 ( 69287 ) on Friday August 12, 2016 @12:35PM (#52691813) Journal

        Section 8, as designed, is a welfare program that anyone (conservative, liberal, whatever) can get behind. It was the proverbial "hand up, not a hand out" that was designed to move people out of projects, where opportunity was low (at best) and into situations where they could truly benefit themselves. The original participants were chosen very carefully, and were tightly screened. They looked for people who wanted to work. People who kept neat houses and took care of their kids. When they were enrolled in the program, they were followed up on to check their progress and ensure they were doing their part. The program was a massive success--the people it helped had overwhelmingly positive outcomes.

        What we have today is a result of it being a victim of its own success. Because it was so successful, scads of money was thrown at the program in an attempt to expand it to more people. Today, just about ANYONE who meets the income requirements can get on section 8 (it is awarded typically by lottery), there is no screening, no followup, or anything else. Its use has (as your citations notes) exported crime from the high crime areas to the low crime areas, all under the guise of "equality" (where everyone lives an equally shitty life, I guess?) it's basically the inverse of the "villas at Kenny's House" gag on South Park, with predictable results.

        I (strongly!) support section 8, but as it was originally designed and implemented, and not the gigantic mess we have today. If you still want me to die as a result, then (with equal civility) I suggest that you go fuck yourself.

        • I'm completely befuddled as to why you would support anything that helps export crime. It was a "victim of its own success" because who wouldn't want to only pay 30% of their bills. I imagine that I could sign up my whole block for that program. It's an insult to those who *do* earn their own way in the world to have a neighbor who only pays 30%.

          Today, just about ANYONE who meets the income requirements can get on section 8 (it is awarded typically by lottery), there is no screening, no followup, or anything else. Its use has (as your citations notes) exported crime from the high crime areas to the low crime areas, all under the guise of "equality" (where everyone lives an equally shitty life, I guess?) it's basically the inverse of the "villas at Kenny's House" gag on South Park, with predictable results.I (strongly!) support section 8, but as it was originally designed and implemented, and not the gigantic mess we have today.

          Why do you strongly support a program that is by your own admission a gigantic mess?

        • One other comment - I am sorry I suggested that you die. That is uncalled for. I'll change that to "... if you support Section 8 then I can only hope that you stop and soon."
          • by Zak3056 ( 69287 )

            Thank you for your return to civility.

            To reply to something you said upthread: I agree teaching people to fish that far, far preferable to providing them daily fish rations. Sometimes, though, you're faced with people who live in the middle of a desert, where teaching them to fish just isn't feasible, and is never going to be. At that point, you can either feed them on the journey out of the desert, or just leave them to die. To me, there is no choice between the two.

            To goal of all welfare programs should

      • Citation: http://www.theatlantic.com/mag [theatlantic.com]...

        I clicked on the link. I didn't get beyond the first line: "Why is crime rising in so many American cities?" An article that starts with a line that, while it may be true, is highly misleading and intended to deceive, or perhaps just pander to existing biases is not an article that can be taken as a reliable citation.

        • Poor reading or just want to maintain your bubble? Being exposed to different viewpoints is how you might learn something. Or you can cover your ears and run away. Let me guess, you support "Safe Spaces" too ;-)
          • Poor reading or just want to maintain your bubble? Being exposed to different viewpoints is how you might learn something.

            No, I just don't want to be bothered reading an article that starts with what is effectively a falsehood: that crime is rising. It isn't. I don't want to be bothered reading an article that is obviously not based on reality.

            There may be some cities where crime is rising (hence justifying the misleading claim), but overall it is falling.

            When you make a disingenuous claim in your f

            • Sounds like a bubble. What you'll find if you bother to actually look further is that you're confusing national crime rates with regional crime rates. For example crime can be going up in some areas why down in others. The question then would be why is crime going up in the areas where it is rising. That's what the article dealt with. You should read it, it really is quite interesting and is not disingenuous nor fact free.
    • All people have rights.

      Do I have the right to live in a safe and quiet neighborhood? It seems from your argument the answer is no, that it should be illegal to try and keep "sectarian violence and outright block warfare" away.

    • to fix the homeless crisis in america means we need to address things like systemic racism, the boom bust cycle of poverty and inequality in american capitalism, and the ability for landed gentry to impose arbitrary restriction on any number of free living conditions to police and enforce what essentially turn into their own mini cities and states.

      No. What we have to fix is the political process. The majority of states can legally use eminent domain to seize empty homes from banks and give them to the homeless, which is precisely what should be done when (as now) the banks refuse to sell the properties for what the market will bear. We know that's what they are doing beyond any shadow of a doubt because there are literally multiple empty homes for every homeless man, woman, and child in this nation.

      Many of our state governments have the power to addr

  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Friday August 12, 2016 @11:02AM (#52691113)

    This isn’t putting any layers out of work. How many do you think want to deal with minor parking and traffic violations? The more interesting cases are personal injury, criminal, IP, and other things where somebody has deep pockets. Heck, most of the time, people don’t involve lawyers in small claims, because it’s not cost-effective.

    Who besides the ticket-writers and land lords wouldn’t be chearing for some online legal help? Actually, all the information you’d need to handle these cases was already online; all this does is automate it for you. Not to downplay this, though. Lots of apps have complicated interfaces to do things, but sometimes it’s really nice to have one of those “wizard” dialogues to help you get it started by asking all the right questions.

  • Civil asset forfeiture, foreclosure fraud, drug offenses, IRS, no fly lists, Our 100 mile "constitution free zone", for almost any non responsive government bureaucracy, the list goes on...

  • by drew_kime ( 303965 ) on Friday August 12, 2016 @02:12PM (#52692601) Journal

    The people writing tickets - and prosecuting them - do it thousands of time a year. Most people defending against them do it once a year or less. Apps like this just put defendants on a more even footing with prosecutors in terms of knowing the law.

    Prosecutors may complain, but if your argument is that you prefer when people don't know the law, you deserve to lose.

  • It is convenient and wards of personal fears to believe that the poor are lazy, have some defect, or behave poorly. But it is a false belief. Mother Teresa spent her life in poverty as did Ghandi, Christ and the Buddha. Many of the best and most worthy people suffer poverty. Ask Mozart! Recently I learned some new ebonics. Getting hemmed was the first term. A hem controls the height of a garment from the ground as well as how far the garment can expand. The trap was the next term. The ghetto is call
  • If I were the author of this chatbot I'd make a version for landlords to help them with quick evictions and tenants that do not pay, not the other way around.

I am NOMAD!

Working...