AI-powered ‘robot lawyer’ to make court appearance

In a historic first, an AI-powered chatbot will be appearing in court next month to help a defendant fight a traffic ticket, according to CBS News. Developed by consumer-focused tech firm DoNotPay, the “robot lawyer” is being used as an experimental step to explore the capabilities of increasingly sophisticated AI tools in the legal system.

DoNotPay CEO Joshua Browder stated that the AI-powered legal assistant runs on a smartphone, which listens to court arguments and then feeds the information through an AI program that outputs legal arguments to the defendant through wireless headphones in real-time.

The idea behind this innovation is to make legal representation free and accessible for everyone, but given the current legal barriers, Browder does not have any plans for commercialization yet. He stated that this was more of an advocacy move and an attempt to encourage the system to change. He is also aware that “there are a lot of lawyers and bar associations that would not support this.”

However, using AI in the courtroom is not without its challenges. Nicholas Saady, a litigator at Pryor Cashman who advises on using AI in business and legal practice, raised concerns that Browder’s plan risks violating state laws requiring lawyers to be licensed, asking “Is it the unauthorized practice of law?” He believes that people are better off hiring real-life lawyers, no matter how advanced the AI gets, as AI still lacks the ability to read body language or make strategic decisions in real-time.

On the other hand, Boston attorney Matt Henshon, who is the chair of the American Bar Association’s Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Committee, sees this innovation as a promising development. Henson believes that DoNotPay’s chatbot could provide legal assistance in lower-stakes scenarios where people would otherwise go unrepresented.

“There are plenty of legal wrongs that don’t get righted because it’s not worth it for a lawyer to get involved,” Henshon said.

While the use of AI in the legal system is still in its infancy, this experimental move is sure to spark a debate about the implications of AI in the courtroom and whether or not it is the way of the future. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this case and whether or not it could lead to a wider adoption of AI-powered legal assistance in the future.

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