With Google Deepmind’s AI now being able to imitate human speech, and IBM Watson successfully diagnosing a rare case of leukemia, artificial intelligence appears to be building a bridge with mental healthcare.

In an article published by SingularityHub, it is emphasised the importance of rather looking at this development as opportunities for AI to support in the healthcare sector where there are critical gaps, rather than viewing it as a threat to the security of employment, particularly with mental healthcare professionals.

As a result of high costs and barriers that you have to go through, such as searching for a provider within your insurance network to finding someone you’re comfortable with talking to, have resulted in many refusing to seek help in the U.S. This is particularly important in a country where ninety percent of the suicide cases are preventable.

This is where X2AI comes to play, introducing `Tess AI’ that provides quality mental healthcare to anyone, regardless of income or location – all you need is Internet connection! Tess AI’s users can communicate with the bot through different channels, such as texting, Facebook messenger, etc.

Since the creation of Tess last year, its improvement has been very good according to CEO and co-founder Michiel Rauws, with the accuracy of the emotion algorithms increasing and the accuracy of the conversation algorithm understanding the meaning behind what the users say.

So what are the benefits to talking to a machine, rather than an actual human being, about emotions and feelings? Rauws refers to evidence proving that talking to a machine takes away the feeling of judgement or social stigma, that the patients could potentially feel when interacting with another human.

It is available 24/7 without any cost, and it saves everything you have said, which allows the user To go back in time and connect dots. The robot is always consistent and will provide the same service regardless of its own personal mood. Tess also ensures that the therapeutic bond is there, as it adapts to each person it interacts with, ensuring that they always match.

One of the most challenging parts of the work of a psychologist is relating to life-threatening information, such as suicidal messages. X2AI has ensured that this certainly ethically challenging issue is addressed as well, as Tess is enabled to detect any downwards change in the person’s mood. Through natural language processing the bot will be able to tell whether or not the person is reaching a dangerous level of depression, where it will call for interference of human assistance.

The Future of Tess

Rauws emphasises that at this current stage Tess is only to be used as support in treatment. The bot is primarily a step towards the direction of offering help to those who were not able to before.

Rauws said in the interview with SingilarityHub that: ‘Talking to a robot can get you a better experience than a person would because of the reasons I mentioned above. If certain tasks which are handled by people now but which could also be handled by a machine (or handled better by a machine) would actually be handled by machines, then people can dedicate more of their time to problems machines cannot take care of’.

This article was republished from: http://singularityhub.com/2016/10/10/bridging-the-mental-healthcare-gap-with-artificial-intelligence/

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