The Quest to Create AI Therapists
AI and Data Science Newsposted by ODSC Team February 6, 2023 ODSC Team
For those who surf their mobile devices often, you might have noticed an uptick in AI-powered chatbots focusing on mental health care. This is no surprise as the quest for artificially intelligent therapists has been making headlines recently, with many platforms offering online counseling services through AI-powered chatbots. In “Keep Trying AI Therapists: They’re Not All Bad,” Washington Post’s Shira Ovide explores the growing trend of AI therapy and the debate surrounding its effectiveness.
Her piece highlights the benefits of AI therapy, including accessibility, affordability, and anonymity. For many, AI therapy shows promise for individuals who lack the financial resources to obtain care and who may live in remote areas. With AI’s 24/7 availability, it could become a good option for those individuals in the future. Finally, with AI therapy, there is a certain level of anonymity that is not possible with traditional therapy, which can help individuals feel more comfortable opening up about sensitive issues.
However, Ovide also acknowledges the limitations of AI therapy. One of the main issues is the lack of human connection that is so crucial in traditional therapy. While AI-powered chatbots may be able to offer support and provide coping strategies, they lack the emotional intelligence and empathy that human therapists possess. This means that they may not be able to offer the same level of support and understanding as a human therapist.
Another limitation of AI therapy is its limited ability to diagnose mental health conditions. AI-powered chatbots rely on algorithms and pre-programmed responses, which may not always be accurate or appropriate for a particular individual’s situation. This can lead to misdiagnosis or ineffective treatment, which can be harmful to individuals with mental health conditions. Where AI seems to be making progress is the use of algorithms tracking key behavior and genetic markers such as the research study we reported on taking place in Singapore. So far, these studies and their datasets are proving to be helpful in diagnosing conditions often missed by mental health professionals due to a lack of clear manifestation during exams.
Though like with many industries and professionals, AI is proving to be an asset and enhancer, Shira concludes it’s unlikely to replace licensed therapists anytime soon. Where it can shine is filling in the gaps where traditional therapy often finds itself, physical availability, anonymity, and affordability. Of course, those dealing with more severe mental health conditions will require something that AI isn’t nearly ready to provide – the human element.
If AI’s development in the fields of psychology and more sounds fascinating to you, then you won’t want to miss ODSC East 2023, with over 10 tracks focused on the latest advancements in AI, deep learning, NLP, and more.