Would you open up to a chatbot therapist? 💬
🤖 As AI technology continues to advance, chatbots are becoming more effective, detailed and human-like in their responses. But will they ever be advanced enough to become effective therapists?
💬 Computer programmer Eugenia Kuyda is the founder of Replika, a US chatbot app that offers users an "AI companion who cares, always here to listen and talk, always on your side". While the app primarily aims to be a friend or companion, it claims it can help benefit your mental health, such as by enabling users to "build better habits and reduce anxiety". Replika has over 2 million active users, ranging from autistic children to adults who are simply lonely and need a friend.
🤖 While anyone with a concern for either his or herself, or a relative, should go to a medical professional in the first place, the growth of chatbot mental health therapists may offer welcome support to many people who currently don't have access to adequate mental healthcare.
💬 Dr Paul Marsden, a member of the British Psychological Society says "Mental health support is based on talking therapy, and talking is what chatbots do". While he acknowledges that apps that aim to improve your mental wellbeing can help, he advises that they should only be seen as a supplement to in-person therapy. He is excited about the power of AI to make therapeutic chatbots more effective.
💡 However, UK online privacy campaigner, Jen Persson says that there needs to be more global regulation of chatbot therapists to ensure that AI companies that make product claims about identifying or supporting mental health are subject to quality and safety standards. Meanwhile, other apps in the mental health sector are more cautious about using AI in the first place, with Headspace's CEO, Russell Glass arguing that the focus of their app will remain human to human, and not AI.
💬 While mental health chatbots won't be replacing human therapists any time soon, Dr Marsden says that AI-powered therapy chatbots will only continue to get better, with new technology evolving skills for effective mental health support, including empathy and understanding of how the human mind works.
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Read the article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-65110680
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