York student uses AI 'chatbot' to get £60 parking fine overturned

The student used Chat GPT to write a letter of appeal. Credit: Millie Houlton

A student used an artificial intelligence chatbot to write a letter which successfully overturned a £60 parking fine.

York student Millie Houlton, 22, decided to contest the ticket when she was wrongly penalised for parking on her street in the city.

She asked the software ChatGPT: "Help me write a letter to the council, they gave me a parking ticket."

Miss Houlton told ITV News: "I decided to try and use it to see if it could write me this letter and it put together a really well articulated letter that was exactly what I needed."

She typed in the details of the fine into the software including location, reference number and the circumstances and said the letter was generated "within seconds."

Within days she was notified that the appeal had been accepted.

Miss Houlton, who is a student at York St John University, said she "wasn't best pleased" when she spotted the notice on her car as she had a permit.

She said: "Originally I was just going to pay the money, I thought it was not worth the hassle.

"I knew I was right, I paid for a permit, I shouldn't have been given a ticket."

Millie Houlton is a student at York St John University Credit: Millie Houlton

Despite being close to paying up because of being so busy with university work, she decided to try the chat bot having already used it at work for emails.

Released by the Silicon Valley company OpenAI ChatGPT is a software application made to mimic human-like conversation based on user prompts and can answer questions.

The OpenAI website says the tool "interacts in a conversational way".

"The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer followup questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests," it says.

Since its launch in November 2022 ChatGPT has proved it can perform a wide range of tasks, including writing songs, building apps and has even passed law exams in the United States.

As the ChatGPT has grown so has concern about just how clever the tool could become.

The council accepted Miss Houlton's letter of appeal.

It has been banned from schools in New York and some Australian states. In the UK, the Government and exam boards are in discussions about how to legislate against cheating.

Miss Houlton, who shared her success on TikTok in a video which has since been viewed more than 300,000 times, said the tool was useful but acknowledged: "The more I use it, the scarier it is, because it really can do everything."

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