THE DOCTOR IS IN — Virtual humans help us be more honest

TOPIC

Some first research exploring how people are more honest and less embarrassed when sharing very personal details with a virtual Human than they are with the real thing. There is the promise of help for people struggling with serious mental anguish, including post-traumatic stress. 

 

TESA  Technology/Entrepreneurship/Society/Arts

 

FINDING 
Research carried out by the University of Southern California is the first of its kind and shows a willingness on the part of patients to divulge even very embarrassing information if they believe there is no human involved.

Subjects recruited through Craigslist aged between eighteen and sixty five were evaluated using SimSensei, a virtual human application able to pick up signals of depression and anxiety through both real-time sensing and non-verbal behaviours.

The aim is to see whether such technology can be of help to real people. The virtual human Ellie would ask questions, feedback, and express empathetic listening, thereby developing rapport and not judging – two important things when it comes to disclosing personal information important to the beginning of diagnosis and therapy.

 

IMPLICATIONS 
Whilst the researchers point out this is not a replacement to real people offering the necessary care and support, but a way of opening up the process with more important and critical information being available sooner.

I find it fascinating how people can be more honest to a virtual human and wonder about how this will not only be something which helps more serious mental conditions but also those carried around by people which inhibit them from flourishing in their lives.

 

QUOTES

“The study provides the first empirical evidence that virtual humans can increase a patient’s willingness to disclose personal information in a clinical setting. It also presents compelling reasons for doctors to start using virtual humans as medical screeners. The honest answers acquired by a virtual human could help doctors diagnose and treat their patients more appropriately.” (Tanya Abrams – USC)

“One participant who thought the virtual human was automated said the experience was “way better than talking to a person. I don’t really feel comfortable talking about personal stuff to other people”.” (Tanya Abrams – USC)

Tweet: The Doctor is in — meet Ellie, your virtual therapist. Trend spotting @theimn @geoffreybaines

 

SOURCES 
Futurity: 21st July 2014

Original article

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The World’s First Affectionate Robot

 

Technology, Entrepreneurship, Society, Art

FINDING

On June 5, 2014 Softbank Chairman and CEO, Masayoshi Son, introduced the first affectionate robot to the world. Built in partnership with Aldebaran Robotics SAS, “Pepper’s” human like qualities are driven by an “emotional engine” and a cloud-based AI. It is Softbank’s intention to install affectionate robots in several of its retail location in Japan. Pepper will be available to the Japanese consumer by 2015.

IMPLICATIONS

Human like robots are not a new idea. People have been imagining them for much of the past century. What makes this finding significant is that for the first time, affectionate robots are being introduced to the consumer market. No longer limited to the realm of science fiction novels and movies. These are not robots that take the place of human manual labour. Rather, robots that could soon replace human warmth and human contact. They are lauded as being able to replace a “babysitter, nurse, and emergency medical worker.” And they have the ability to improve their emotional intuition and response. The more they experience, the more they will learn…and evolve. Machines with emotional intelligence.

What will an AI that has been given 25-30 years of life experience look like? Sound like? Act like? Feel like? Could this be the beginning of the beginning of sentient machines? And how ubiquitous will these affectionate robots be in 2045?

QUOTES

“It’s either a technological breakthrough or the most terrifying robot advancement I’ve ever heard of.” -Lance Ulanoff, Chief Correspondent and Editor-at-Large of Mashable.

SOURCES

http://mashable.com/2014/06/05/softbank-emotional-robot/

WILL AI GET A STANDING OVATION AT TED?

Geoffrey Baines Edinburgh, Scotland March 21, 2014
Submitted, March 21, 2014
Geoffrey Baines
Edinburgh, Scotland

Technology, Entrepreneurship, Society, Art

FINDING
Peter Diamandis and TED’s Chris Anderson have announced an amazing XPrize to move Artificial Intelligence forward.  The challenge: “Can an A.I. give a TED talk so powerful and compelling that it commands a standing ovation?”

IMPLICATIONS
In the last four years, IBM’s Watson and Google’s Deep Learning have pushed forward AI’s evolution. Now, the XPrize promises to give the truest indication of just how human A.I. is really becoming.

There is also an opportunity to be involved in the project.  Peter Diamandis invites his Abundance 360 members to be part of the action: “Because the design of this XPRIZE isn’t easy or obvious, I’m turning to you, my Abundance & Bold community, for help and input. For example: How long should the A.I.’s TED talk be? How should the subject be chosen? How should the competition be judged? Should the A.I. be a physical robot that walks (or rolls) on stage or just a voice?”

I think I might just join in.

QUOTES
“We’re currently agnostic as to how the talk is presented. Could be a robot walking onto the stage, an avatar or Scarlett Johansson’s sexy disembodied voice. And the ‘standing O’ criterion is intended as a powerful symbol for the standard a talk should aspire to.” (Chris Anderson)

SOURCE
Email from Abundance 360, but you can also check in here:

http://blog.ted.com/2014/03/20/a-ted-talk-from-artificial-intelligence-theres-an-xprize-for-that/