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.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

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Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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