Health: what if artificial intelligence replaced our shrink?

Science fiction? Not quite. In their article published by “The Conversation” last August, Vincent Martin, postdoctoral fellow at LaBRi (Bordeaux computer research laboratory) and Christophe Gauld, head of the child psychiatry clinic in Lyon, show that from the 1960s, “chatbots or chatbots…

Science fiction? Not quite. In their article published by “The Conversation” last August, Vincent Martin, postdoctoral fellow at LaBRi (Bordeaux computer research laboratory) and Christophe Gauld, head of the child psychiatry clinic in Lyon, show that from the 1960s, “chatbots or conversational robots dedicated to psychiatry have been developed. The patient could discuss with them in writing via a computer.

The two scientists therefore ask the question “Will an AI (artificial intelligence) soon replace your psychiatrist? “. Their article tells us that today there are more than twenty robot therapists validated by scientific studies in psychiatry. Some argue that patients would even feel more comfortable with a chatbot than with a human psychiatrist.

But if it is tempting to think that the machine would be more objective and without judgment, it is also driven by a human. The coder is subject to the same variables as the psychiatrist: quality of training, work environment. And it provides the AI ​​with a database itself designed and annotated by a human who has his own biases.

In the opinion of the two researchers, “the psychiatrist still surpasses his electronic version”, particularly in terms of relational qualities. Unlike AI, the practitioner can adapt his tone, his posture to the patient, he also perceives gestures, emotions on the face. Non-explicit indices for a machine.

Their conclusion will probably reassure many patients and practitioners: no, an AI will not replace our psychologists tomorrow. But both are doing research in the direction of a human/AI practitioner hybridization. The dialogue is fluid between Christophe Gauld, a psychiatrist with a certain curiosity for the possibilities offered by artificial intelligence and Vincent Martin, a computer scientist very interested in psychiatry.

digital medicine

” I believe it. We must move forward on a humanistic and empathetic medicine and in parallel on the development of connected, digital health, ”says Christophe Gauld who is preparing a thesis in philosophy of medicine.

Vincent Martin, who defended a thesis on drowsiness, works in particular on vocal markers. “It contains a lot of information about the condition of the person and it is easily collectable because almost everyone has a smartphone. This is called digital phenotyping: our daily interaction with digital tools generates data that can be useful in giving additional information to the clinician. »

A voice can be nasal, fluid or on the contrary tense; it may turn out to be choppy when reading a text. The terms used can also give information according to their positive or negative ambivalence.

“We are considering whether these data collections are carried out passively, not necessarily via an application that must be opened. They would be collected in your daily life when you interact with your voice assistant… As is already the case with the number of steps or variations in heart rate collected by a connected watch: information can be sought without requiring patient investment. . »

“What to do with the information: “you are depressed” without support?”

In the context of psychiatry, both researchers agree that the goal should not be to obtain a diagnosis. “What to do with the information: ‘you are depressed, or bipolar’ without support?, describes Vincent Martin. What I advocate rather is the detection of symptoms. Clinicians need to know the symptoms that manifest themselves in daily life to formulate their diagnosis and decide on support and treatment. He could have access to this information digitally between two appointments to optimize follow-up. We can also imagine a reorientation of patients”

Dr. Gauld is realistic: “The main barrier will not be technological: we will quickly have a recognition tool that works well, but we will have to explain to practitioners what it can bring in addition to their practice without replacing them. There are several schools of thought, ways of looking at psychiatry. There are known reluctances…”

The world where artificial intelligence will have replaced our doctors has not yet arrived. “It is above all a human relationship and it is essential in the treatment process. »

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Health: what if artificial intelligence replaced our shrink?


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