The avatar uses generative AI to offer advice on staying healthy, reducing stress and more

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

April 3, 2024

2 Min Read
World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) has built an AI-powered avatar to help provide information across major health topics.

Described as a “digital health promoter,” Sarah can interact with users to offer empathetic advice on smoking, exercise and mental health.

The chatbot is designed to support users to better understand leading causes of death like cancer and diabetes. Sarah can provide information and tips for quitting tobacco and ways to reduce stress. 

The AI-powered avatar can respond in eight languages, including English, Spanish, Hindi and Chinese and users can interact with it through video or text 24 hours a day.

“The future of health is digital, and supporting countries to harness the power of digital technologies for health is a priority for WHO,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director general. “Sarah gives us a glimpse of how artificial intelligence could be used in future to improve access to health information in a more interactive way.”

The technology used to build Sarah is called Biological AI. Built by New Zealand-based Soul Machines, it mimics human-like behavior in responses instead of relying on a pre-set algorithm or script.

Sarah uses conversational AI and text-to-speech technology to communicate with users. It’s powered by a generative AI model trained on health-related data from the WHO, which enables it to generate accurate and dynamic responses to user inputs in real time.

Sarah will not, however, respond to user queries on religion, politics, conspiracy theories or controversial content. When a user prompts Sarah with a barred topic, she responds with: “As a digital health promoter, I am not allowed to discuss certain topics… My main goal is to help you live a healthy lifestyle and provide information on topics such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, mental health, healthy eating, physical activity and more.”

Sarah was created as part of a WHO project to make health-related information more widely accessible. A previous version of the avatar, named Florence, was used to spread public health messages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more about:

ChatGPT / Generative AI

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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