Imagine the story of Pinocchio, but with a sad ending. That’s essentially the tale told by Jonathan Faridian’s class action complaint.
Pinocchio, you will recall, was a wooden puppet (technically, a marionette) whose father (technically, creator) was kindly old woodcutter Geppetto. Geppetto yearned for a son—a real boy. Happily, by the end of the story, Geppetto’s wish comes true: Pinocchio becomes a real boy!
Sadly, Jonathan’s story did not have a happy ending. Jonathan answered an ad offering the services of a “robot lawyer.” Alas, to Jonathan’s shock, the robot was not a real lawyer. It was a robot! How could he have possibly known? And Jonathan was no Geppetto. No matter how much he wished the robot were a real lawyer, it remained a robot.
You can read Jonathan’s sad reversal of the Pinocchio story in the complaint he filed in California Superior Court, San Francisco County. But be advised: You should have a full box of tissues at hand.
Jonathan’s complaint tells this heartbreaking story: He read about a company called DoNotPay. For a bimonthly subscription fee of $36, the company promised to provide an app with a chatbot utilizing artificial intelligence to provide legal services. The company bills the chatbot as “The World’s First Robot Lawyer.”
The app was originally designed to contest parking tickets. But according to DoNotPay, the robot lawyer can now perform a range of legal tasks and has been used for cancellation of subscriptions, seeking refunds from hotels and airlines, asserting claims from Equifax after a security breach, and applying for visas and green cards.