A university student has successfully appealed a parking fine by enlisting the help of an artificial intelligence chatbot to write her appeal letter.
Millie Houlton received a £60 fine notice from York City Council for parking on her street, despite having a permit to do so. Houlton, who is in the final year of her events and business management degree at York St John University, said she was tempted to pay the fine rather than spend time composing a response.
Instead, she asked ChatGPT to “please help me write a letter to the council, they gave me a parking ticket” and sent it off. The chatbot-generated letter proved successful, and the authority withdrew the fine notice.
Chatbots are designed to find and present information in a lifelike way, answering questions and providing tailored responses. Houlton praised the technology for its ease of use, saying: “trying to articulate what I wanted to say was pretty difficult, so I thought I’ll just see if ChatGPT can do it for me.”
The 22-year-old uses the chatbot for various social occasions, including organizing an Easter egg hunt for her running club around York. The chatbot created riddles and clues to help Houlton plan the event.
The incident highlights the potential of artificial intelligence to assist individuals in navigating bureaucratic processes. While it is unclear if other local authorities will follow York City Council’s example, the success of Houlton’s appeal shows that AI chatbots could be a valuable tool for contesting fines and other legal issues.
However, critics have warned that an over-reliance on chatbots could lead to a loss of human judgment and accountability.
In general, Houlton’s story serves as a reminder of the growing role of AI in everyday life and how it can benefit individuals who might otherwise struggle to navigate complex processes.
While there are risks associated with the increasing use of chatbots and other forms of AI, it is clear that they have the potential to help people save time and money by automating specific tasks.