+
Heroes

His 'robot lawyer' has helped people beat 160,000 parking tickets. Here's what's next.

His free service has saved people millions of dollars, and he's just getting started.

When he was 18, Joshua Browder had a reputation for getting parking tickets. Lots of parking tickets.

Unable to pay the ever-mounting fines, Browder got really good at challenging them. He became a kind of local expert in the art of appealing tickets, helping friends and family work their way out of the occasional citation.


Photo courtesy of Joshua Browder.

This gave him an idea.

Browder created DoNotPay, a bot designed to make the process of appealing parking tickets easy — and automated.

The chat bot asks the user a series of questions aimed at determining whether they have a legitimate gripe with the ticket. For example, it might ask whether there were any "No Parking" signs present at the location.

Photo courtesy of Joshua Browder.

"I thought a really cool side project would be to create this chat bot just to kind of show off to my friends at school," he tells Upworthy.

The free service took off.

What began as a fun project to show friends and family caught the attention of international media outlets, though the bot is currently only available to drivers in New York and London (and soon, Seattle).

To date, DoNotPay has helped drivers save more than $4 million by successfully appealing more than 160,000 tickets.

Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.

Browder has done what so many inventors only dream of: He created technology that genuinely improves the lives of its users. — specifically, low-income users.

An April 2016 study looked at the challenges facing drivers and found that a single unpaid ticket could snowball into a nearly insurmountable fine for low-income individuals.

DoNotPay might change all that.

Photo by iStock.

Someone who might not be able to afford the cost of a ticket at the time it's handed down could face penalties and late fees until the sum is several times the original.

"For a person who's very low income, who may be unemployed, who may be living on public assistance, on SSI because of a disability or because they are elderly, they can't afford these payments," report co-author and senior attorney with the Western Center on Law and Poverty Antionette Dozier told KPCC News.

Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images.

DoNotPay could help low-income drivers who can't afford a lawyer to challenge a ticket on their behalf the ability to successfully appeal it on their own, putting an end to this cycle.

Browder's goal reaches beyond traffic tickets. He's working on a feature to help refugees navigate foreign legal systems.

In a new country, many refugees may not be up to date on laws or what rights they have when it comes to receiving a fair trial. Browder's vision involves a version of the bot that can understand both Arabic and English, providing users with answers to basic legal questions.

The bot is obviously more affordable and accessible than hiring a lawyer, and, to a refugee who might not have much money, it could be a lifesaver.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Additionally, Browder is working on a feature that would help air travelers seek reimbursement for late flights and another that would help HIV-positive individuals navigate disclosure laws and procedures.

It's Browder's hope that these technological advances will help make life more efficient and more fair to all people.

"I think that not just in law, but in so many aspects, technology can provide services for free, and at that point, the economically disadvantaged can gain access to things they previously hadn't been able to gain access to," Browder says, citing the government as a particularly bureaucratic and historically inefficient system.

Photo courtesy of Joshua Browder.

As for the money that cities are counting on collecting from parking tickets, it looks like they'll be OK after all. In 2015, New York City collected $1.9 billion in fines and fees.

Ensuring that a few million dollars in erroneously issued tickets don't go to collections doesn't seem to be a huge problem.

You can learn more about DoNotPay on its website. For updates on his work, you can follow Browder on Twitter.

"Time is the one thing we cannot increase.”

Over his seven years as host of “The Daily Show,” Trevor Noah brought us laughter and valuable insights, even with a pandemic and political upheaval. He made such a positive mark that the announcement of his departure from the show came as bittersweet news to fans.

During an interview with Hoda Kotb of “Today,” Trevor Noah gave further explanation to his personal decision to leave, and in typical Noah fashion, it touched on something universal in the process.

“I realized during the pandemic,” he told Kotb, “everyone talks about a ‘work-life balance.’ But that almost creates the idea that your work and your life are two separate things. When in fact, I came to realize during the pandemic that it’s just a ‘life-life balance.’ It’s just your life.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Roméo A. on Unsplash

Cat hilariously rats out owner in front of the landlord

Maybe it's a right of passage into adulthood or maybe some landlords discriminate against pets because they can't tell people kids are forbidden in their residence. Either way, just about everyone has lived in a rental home that didn't allow pets. Most people just abide by the rules and vow to get a pet when they find a new home.

Some people, on the other hand, get creative. I once came across a post on social media where someone claimed their pit bull puppy was actually a Silver Labrador. But one woman on TikTok was harboring a secret cat in her rental that had a no pets policy, and either her cat was unaware or he was aware and was simply being a jerk.

My money is on the latter since cats are known to be jerks for no reason. I mean, have you ever left something on the counter for a few minutes? They make it their mission to knock it on the floor. So I fully believe this fluffy little meow box wanted to make his presence known in an effort to rat out his owner.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Delivery driver's reaction to snacks left for him shows how a little kindness goes a long way

“Seeing a grown man get so excited about Capri Sun is extra wholesome."

'Dee' the delivery guy stoked to get some Doritos.

Sometimes the smallest gesture can change someone’s day for the better, especially when that act of kindness lets them know their work is appreciated. Over the last few years, delivery drivers have done a fantastic job keeping people healthy during the pandemic, so Toni Hillison Barnett told News 11 that she and her husband started a tradition of leaving snacks for their drivers on the front porch.

The Barnetts, who live in Louisville, Kentucky, can see the drivers' reactions by recording them on their doorbell cameras. “I live for reactions like this to our snack cart! Thx to all of the delivery drivers out there! We appreciate you!” Toni wrote on an Instagram post.

Recently, one of the Barnetts’ delivery guys, a joyous fellow that we believe is known as Dee, went viral on TikTok because of his positive reaction to receiving some snacks during his deliveries. The snacks are tasty, no doubt. But it’s also wonderful to feel appreciated. After Toni posted the video it received over 100,000 views.

“Oh my God, you guys are the best, I gotta take a snapshot of this,” Dee can be heard saying in the video. “Oh, Capri Suns are my favorite, Yes!”

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
woman holding a cup of tea, writing in a notebook

It's no secret that everyone could use a little kindness in their lives and it can come in many forms. Sometimes it's the neighbor cutting your grass when your husband's away and you're too busy to get to it yourself. Other times it's sending a card to the elderly widow down the street.

One woman in Arkansas has taken to spreading kindness through writing letters to strangers. Allison Bond, 25, started writing letters over a year ago during COVID-19 when she couldn't attend school due to her medical condition. Bond has cerebral palsy and is at greater risk for serious illness should she contract the virus. Writing letters was an act of kindness that didn't require a trip out of the house.

Bond began by writing to soldiers and inmates. In fact, the first letter she received back was from a soldier. Bond told 5News, "I have one framed from a soldier. He had all his battle buddies sign it. So I framed it so I could put it up." She's kept every letter she's received.

Keep ReadingShow less