Elena Cresci, The Guardian:
The chatbot lawyer that overturned hundreds and thousands of parking tickets is now tackling another problem: homelessness.
London-born Stanford student Joshua Browder created DoNotPay initially to help people appeal against fines for unpaid parking tickets. Dubbed “the world’s first robot lawyer”, Browder later programmed it to deal with a wider range of legal issues, such as claiming for delayed flights and trains and payment protection insurance (PPI).
Now, Browder, 19, wants his chatbot to provide free legal aid to people facing homelessness. He said: “I never could have imagined a parking ticket bot would appeal so much to people. Then I realised: this issue is bigger than a few parking tickets.”
A cynical part of me expects lawyers and landlords will get this bot declared illegal. But then what happens if Browder moves the bot outside US and UK jurisdiction?
A new law passed by the LA city council prohibits homeless people from owning more belongings than can fit in a 60-gallon trashcan with the lid on, and allows police to summarily confiscate any tents that are still standing on public property during daylight hours.
The law is a response to Los Angeles’s epidemic of homelessness — a rise in homelessness that’s clocked in at 20% of two years.
Of course, homelessness isn’t like smoking, a lifestyle choice that can be disincentivized given enough government arm-twisting. Homelessness is a human rights crisis, brought on, in part, by Bill Clinton’s cruel and vile “welfare reforms” (which were passed by adding “compromises” that allowed state governments to be even crueller, an arrangement that came home to roost when the Tea Party started electing governors who ran on a platform that demonized poor people, and subsequently began to literally starve the poorest people in their states).
There are many reasons that people become homeless, but all homeless people share one plight: they don’t have a home. Shelter is a human necessity, only one up from food on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. But the property bubble has converted shelter from a human right to an asset class, driving governments to go to extraordinary lengths to make shelter more expensive: imagine if governments’s surest path to re-election was to make food more expensive.
LA’s new rule: homeless people are only allowed to own one trashcan’s worth of things [Cory Doctorow – Boing Boing]
Taxpayers pay $31,065 per homeless person per year for emergency room visits, hospital admissions, and arrests. Providing the chronically homeless with permanent housing and case workers would be about $10,000 per person per year, according to a study.