How artificial intelligence can assist with human psychology
It might sound like the plot of a science fiction movie, but as artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities expand, human psychology will play a part. More and more innovative ideas are being considered, such as using AI in psychotherapy, considering the effects of AI on our psyches, and assisting human psychologists.
What are the advantages of using AI in therapy? Some patients might be in remote locations underserved by counselors, which could be a natural fit for computer assistance. Another role for AI includes assisting therapists with the sheer volume of information that needs to be analyzed, which AI can do much more quickly and accurately. AI can also provide cost savings, bringing mental health assistance to those who cannot afford traditional treatment. For these reasons, it’s almost certain that a psychology school of the future will include AI-related subject matter. Areas currently in development include:
Some functions currently performed by medical experts, such as administering questionnaires and making pain assessments, can be conducted through AI and machine learning (ML) algorithms. These algorithms are cheaper, faster, and less subjective than human testing.
Identifying and Treating Depression
Treating depression is an ideal fit for AI psychology. Patients with depression might prefer anonymity, want to avoid human contact, not want to leave their homes, or not even recognize they have depression in the first place. Chatbots can identify depression symptoms and provide meditation recommendations, progress tracking, wellness reminders, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
AI algorithms can also mine social data to identify people at risk of suicide or self-harm. This can be especially useful for parents and schools who want to provide additional screening and treatment for teenagers while preserving their rights to privacy.
Treating Neurological Disorders and Prescribing a Cure
AI also offers applications in diagnosing and treating neurological disorders. AI combines seizure management, drug discovery, and personalized medicine to treat epilepsy. For example, one project has developed the first non-EEG seizure monitoring system. A smartwatch can detect a possible seizure, alert caregivers, and provide GPS location data. It can also analyze and store patterns during sleep and waking periods.
Providing Virtual Therapy
There are a number of reasons why some patients might prefer virtual therapy rather than discussing issues with a live person. One key reason includes a willingness to be more open with a virtual assistant rather than a human therapist. Some studies have shown that patients tend to self-censor during therapy sessions and not reveal details they consider shameful, which can drastically alter the effectiveness of the counseling sessions. With an AI-powered bot, patients report not feeling judged and therefore more willing to be open.
Will AI ever completely replace psychologists? Probably not. Psychology and AI can work hand and hand to provide better treatment and therapies, but even with all that AI and ML have to offer, the field of psychology will likely always require human intervention. AI can help provide more scientific insights that can help advance the field of psychology, but it will likely never fully replace the human touch.
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