LawBot 2.0: crime-identifying ‘robot’ created by Cambridge University law students can now help with divorces

Online system gets family law update

The Cambridge University students who created a crime-identifying system called ‘LawBot’ have revealed it can now offer advice relating to divorce proceedings.

Having brushed up on its family law, LawBot 2.0 or ‘DivorceBot’ — which is the brainchild of law students Ludwig Bull, Rebecca Agliolo, Jozef Maruscak, Nadial Abdul, Yukiko Lui and Faith Edmunds — can handle legal queries relating to marriage breakdowns.

Like its crime specialist predecessor, DivorceBot uses Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (AIML) to take the user through a series of pertinent questions such as: “do you find your spouse intolerable to live with?” and “has your spouse committed adultery?”.

Having answered the relevant questions, DivorceBot — which offers its deepest sympathy throughout the process — then provides the user with legal advice.

Legal Cheek pretended to be going through a tricky divorce and tested it out. DivorceBot suggested we might be able to rely upon s1(2)(b) Matrimonial Causes Act on the grounds that the “marriage has irretrievably broken down”.

But for those wanting to put DivorceBot through its paces you’re going to have to be quick. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the current programme, the students have decided to place the robot in “hibernation” at noon today so it can undergo a full redesign. But fear not, the clever system will return in June, hopefully as an app.

In addition to the free legal advice, the system can also provide a step-by-step guide to the separation process, offering practical information on costs and documentation. Speaking to Legal Cheek, Lui and Edmunds said:

We hope to make this area of the law accessible and provide users with information that is easy to follow and understand. The intersection between law and family life can often be full of uncertainty and tension and we hope DivorceBot, by improving knowledge of this area of law, will allow the law to work more smoothly for ordinary people. In this climate of cuts to legal aid, the internet can be an important alternative source of information for those being forced to turn to self-help for legal remedies.

Stressing that DivorceBot is in its testing phase, the team’s commercial director, Agliolo, added:

We are constantly improving LawBot’s user-friendliness and intelligence. After that, we want to focus on aspects of law that will directly impact and improve individuals’ lives and access to justice. The sky’s the limit!

The original LawBot is designed to offer advice in relation to 26 “major criminal offences”, including sex offences, property offences and offences against the person.

You can put LawBot (and DivorceBot) through their paces here.

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5 Comments

Anonymous Coward

Things like this will get better in future, but right now it’s as dumb as a celebrity big brother contestant after a stroke.

(6)(2)
Anonymous

Everything is fine as long as you provide specific answers to specific questions, I imagine I could throw something more impressive together using Microsoft Office and my basic computer skills.

(3)(1)
Anonymous

I don’t know why lawyers are always so ready to assume that technology couldn’t possibly do any “advanced” legal work,; the whole attitude of the profession is incredibly defensive. Technology is changing how humans beings live and work, in every profession – including law. The most successful firms will be the ones who are ready to adopt new technologies; the ones who steadfastly refuse will fail.

(1)(2)
Not Amused

Well the problem is that you have to both know some law and be very good at law in order to understand how complex it is.

Our society is, and I am not happy that it is but I do acknowledge that it is, legally illiterate. So it is unlikely an outside force will create an automated solution. When the internal forces are being much less ambitious, you can either conclude that is an evil conspiracy, or assume we know what we are talking about.

(2)(0)

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