Blog Rolls

Rolls-Royce Wants to Fill the Seas With Self-Sailing Ships

Wired Top Stories - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 09:00
The vision starts with helping humans stay safe at sea, but could put fully robo-boats into action as ferries in just a few years.
Categories: Just News

Swapping Bots for Lawyers Via App: DoNotPay

I know it has been a fearfully long while since I last posted here. I forgive anyone and everyone from abandoning the empty, echoing halls of AdvocatesStudio for greener and more fertile and more updated tech blog pastures. Yet, here I am, writing again, prompted by the thought that suing someone may be as simple as downloading an app. DoNotPay, a robot lawyer Chatbot app, is now promising to help people file suits in small claims court, no JD required. And, because I like the cheap and free around here, DoNotPay currently is free for users. That is a lot cheaper than the hourly rate charged by the average lawyer.

Developer Josh Browder, now barely drinking age here in the US, created DoNotPay as a means of automating the process of challenging parking tickets, mainly inspired by his own excessive collection of tickets generated shortly after receiving his drivers’ license. The ChatBot – a conversational interface that prompts a user to provide information that can then be leveraged by the AI to provide answers or actions – allowed users to select one of several defenses to the ticket, enter details and send an appeal generated by the app to the appropriate legal authority. Browder taught himself to code at the age of 12, and his efforts certainly haven’t been wasted – the first version of the bot in 2015 reportedly saved UK drivers approximately 2 million pounds in two months time. Buoyed by his early success, Browder has allegedly claimed his app may “take down” the legal profession, which undoubtedly will be applauded by a couple of people.

Following on the parking ticket win, Josh added new beta functionality to the app in 2017 on the heels of the massive Equifax data breach –  he apparently also was swept up into the breach (notice a trend here?). DoNotPay offered the ability to sue Equifax in small claims courts throughout the U.S. up to the small claims jurisdictional limit, ranging from $2,500 to $25,000. The new functionality basically assisted the user in preparing the forms necessary for the small claims action; you still had to serve the Complaint and attend the hearing. After entering your name and address in the app and the app generated the necessary papers to institute a small claims action in a PDF format that could be printed and filed. Providing any assistance in the process, though, is a benefit to users unfamiliar with local small claims practice who might otherwise not bother to navigate the legal maze.  And, as found with the parking tickets, users reported some success using the app to secure awards from Equifax.

Within the past week, Browder has again tweaked the app, now permitting users to create documents to sue anyone in small claims court. And, the Bot is now available via mobile application – previously, the tool was strictly web based. An Android app is coming, Browder promises. There are additional new features, and this might be where Browder monetizes – users can find deals on fast food by filling out surveys and deals on prescription and over-the-counter drugs, make appointments at the California Department of Motor Vehicles and check on class action settlement eligibility.

The app can be used to help fight bank fees and dispute transactions, secure refunds from companies like Uber, and fix credit reports. Like the beta version, the bot asks for a name and address, claim size (to see if it is within the jurisdictional limit of the applicable state), and then generates a demand letter, creates the filing documents, offers information on how to serve the suit, and even generates suggested scripts and questions that users can leverage at the hearing.

The new app doesn’t stop there – DoNotPay also recently acquired Visabot to assist in the application of green cards and other visa filings. While, Visabot was a pay app for some of its services, Browder is offering the former services, like all DoNotPay services, for free.

Does DoNotPay violate state laws on the unauthorized practice of law? Good question and one that is not yet resolved. My thought is that, if the information DoNotPay provides is targeted information that is freely accessible in the public forum, albeit in in a guided interface that helps users cut through the swathes of irrelevant, confusing or downright unhelpful information, perhaps that is not the same as providing legal advice. However, as I haven’t used the app myself yet, I cannot comment on whether any of the tools cross the line. I also cannot comment on the accuracy of the information provided by the app. Browder certainly maintains that he has been addressing concerns and making updates to improve information and to ensure compliance with applicable laws.

Browder also maintains that the information users provide to the app is protected –  per Do Not Pay’s privacy policy, user data is protected with 256-bit encryption and there is no purported access to PII or case information.

Some may cynically claim that apps like this make an already litigious system worse. However, the fact remains that those who are most likely to use such an app are most likely the under-served segments of legal services in our society. Perhaps opening those doors a little wider may encourage some positive behaviors on the part of institutions that have benefited from that lack of access. Particularly in the area of immigration these days, such assistance, in any form, may be vital and life altering.

It is not clear how long the app will remain free. For now, Browder is seed funded with $1.1 million from investors and micro donations from customers. Browder’s stated intentions is that basic legal services will remain free, but inevitably, he may need to add charges for some services in order to keep the app going.

You can download the app yourself on the App Store – feel free to report back on your experience. Would love to know how our new Robot overlords handle the complexities of small claims court.

Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

Will Americans Embrace A Zeal For Eel? This Maine Entrepreneur Hopes So

Most catches are exported to unagi-loving Asian nations, which pay up to thousands of dollars per pound. But one woman is raising and marketing eels for U.S. buyers: "Why not keep that value at home?"

(Image credit: Keith Shortall/Maine Public Radio)

Categories: Just News

On '60 Minutes,' Trump Talks Possible Mattis Exit, Climate Change And Kim Jong Un

The president sat down with CBS' 60 Minutes for the first time since entering the White House. In the wide-ranging interview, he also discussed his views on NATO and Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

(Image credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Categories: Just News

When, Exactly, Did Politics Become a Tech Story?

Wired Top Stories - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 07:00
Early WIRED could ignore politics because its writers were focused on imagining the future. Today, the digital revolution is upon us, so WIRED writers have a larger task: helping readers understand what is happening in the present.
Categories: Just News

Blue And Red Companies: How CEO Activism Is Reshaping Workforce Politics

More workers are demanding their leaders take stands on hot-button issues, and some CEOs don't shy away from the controversy. But they also must navigate the risks and benefits for their workforce.

(Image credit: Scott Dalton/Invision/AP)

Categories: Just News

In Prison, Discipline Comes Down Hardest On Women

Data from 15 states reveal that female inmates are disciplined at higher rates than men for smaller infractions of prison rules — often with harsh consequences.

(Image credit: Bill Healy for SJNN)

Categories: Just News

Long-Secret Watergate 'Road Map' May Soon Be Public. Could It Guide Mueller's Team?

A federal judge has paved the way to publish one of the last remaining secrets of the Watergate investigation. Experts said the materials could inform how special counsel Robert Mueller proceeds.

(Image credit: Anonymous/AP)

Categories: Just News

As E-Scooters Roll Into American Cities, So Do Safety Concerns

Electric scooters zoom through traffic in many cities these days, and have the potential to take cars off the road. But experts worry that the many riders who forgo safety gear are taking big risks.

(Image credit: David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

Sears, Drowning In Red Ink, Finally Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

The filling could mark the end of the struggling retailer, which invented the mail-order catalog business and has been an American institution since the late 19th century.

(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

You’re Expecting Too Much Out of Boston Dynamics’ Robots

Wired Top Stories - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 00:04
Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert doesn't know exactly how people will use robots like the SpotMini. But at least it can do the running man.
Categories: Just News

Does Harvard Treat Asian-American Applicants Unfairly? The Case Goes To Trial

A federal lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in Harvard University's admissions process goes to court this week. It could have big consequences for higher education.

(Image credit: Charles Krupa/AP)

Categories: Just News

Glen Weyl on Technology and Social Innovation

Wired Top Stories - Sun, 10/14/2018 - 21:40
Glen Weyl, a principal researcher at Microsoft, says society is relying too much on technology to solve social problems.
Categories: Just News

List of Every Animal Humans Currently Monitor Using Facial Recognition Technology

New York Magazine: “Facial recognition technology has some serious, persistent issues. These were clearly shown earlier this year when Amazon’s “Rekognition” mistakenly identified 28 members of Congress as criminals. The technology as a whole largely suffers both from inaccuracy and systemic bias. Regardless of who wields the technology or for what purpose, the algorithms use raw data pulled from a society hindered by racial and gender predispositions which ultimately yield similarly biased results. In essence, bad data in means biased results out. In places like China, where the national government is already primed with a proclivity for mass surveillance, facial recognition turns the the troubling into the dystopian.

Clearly, surveilling humans comes with an assortment of ethical and moral dilemmas attached. But what about surveilling animals? Until new technologies give us the ability to understand animals’ views on the panopticon, people have been almost disconcertingly audacious about training computers to recognize their faces. Humans don’t have a great track record for not harming animals, even when we know better. But for now, at least, it appears we’re using our technological prowess to keep track of ecosystems and positively manage populations.

A Bloomberg feature this week highlighted how a Norwegian company is using facial recognition to capture and store the faces of millions of Atlantic salmon to help fight disease. That fish-face database will potentially let farmers monitor salmon numbers and detect abnormalities in health, like parasitic sea lice, which could be a boon for farmers around the world. Salmon are just the latest entry in a growing cornucopia of animal faces loaded into databases. For some animals, the biometric data gathered from them is being used to aid in conservation efforts. For others, the resulting AI could help ward off poachers. While partly creepy and partly very cute, monitoring of these animals can both help protect their populations and ensure safe, traceable livestock for developing communities. Here is a list of all the (known) animals currently being surveilled with facial recognition software, and why we are watching them…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Anand Giridharadas on Saudi Money and Silicon Valley Hypocrisy

Wired Top Stories - Sun, 10/14/2018 - 20:09
Author Anand Giridharadas says the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is prompting some in tech to rethink ties to the Saudi regime.
Categories: Just News

Michael Will Cost Insurers Billions, But Won't Overwhelm Industry, Analysts Say

The storm's costs to insurers will be substantial, Fitch Ratings says, but companies should be able to absorb the losses. Still, communities will be coping with the financial fallout for a long time.

(Image credit: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

Genome Hackers Show No One’s DNA Is Anonymous Anymore

Wired: “In 2013, a young computational biologist named Yaniv Erlich shocked the research world by showing it was possible to unmask the identities of people listed in anonymous genetic databases using only an Internet connection. Policymakers responded by restricting access to pools of anonymized biomedical genetic data. An NIH official said at the time, “The chances of this happening for most people are small, but they’re not zero.” Fast-forward five years and the amount of DNA information housed in digital data stores has exploded, with no signs of slowing down. Consumer companies like 23andMe and Ancestry have so far created genetic profiles for more than 12 million people, according to recent industry estimates. Customers who download their own information can then choose to add it to public genealogy websites like GEDmatch, which gained national notoriety earlier this year for its role in leading police to a suspect in the Golden State Killer case. Those interlocking family trees, connecting people through bits of DNA, have now grown so big that they can be used to find more than half the US population. In fact, according to new research led by Erlich, published today in Science, more than 60 percent of Americans with European ancestry can be identified through their DNA using open genetic genealogy databases, regardless of whether they’ve ever sent in a spit kit.

Categories: Law and Legal

New on LLRX for September and part of October

If you are not checking in on Pete’s weekly column on cyber security issues and privacy on LLRX – please take some time to read about what you are missing! Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, healthcare and medical issues, to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Three significant highlights of this week’s column [October 14, 2018]: Consumer genetic testing that it’s now possible for law enforcement agencies to use genetic data to hunt down virtually anyone of European descent; FBI chief says threats from drones to U.S. ‘steadily escalating’; and Voice Phishing Scams Are Getting More Clever.

See the list below for other recent LLRX articles that can directly benefit your research, work flow and continuous learning:

Categories: Law and Legal

Merkel's Allies Falter In Regional Elections, As Rivals Gain On Left And Right

The German chancellor's center-right sister party has long been a juggernaut in Bavaria, but they didn't look like it Sunday.

(Image credit: Armin Weigel/AFP/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

Pages

Subscribe to www.dgbutterworth.com aggregator