“In 2020, the National Council for Behavioral Health reported that due to a sharp increase in demand, 65% of behavioral health organizations had to cancel, reschedule, or turn away patients.”
Recent developments in artificial intelligence have made breakthroughs in interpersonal communications. Using machine learning techniques, programs can generate helpful articles and even hold conversations with people that help reduce their stress. In fact, this practice is more than half a century old. Should the workplace wellness industry be worried?
Language AI can Already Compete With Human Writing
Artificial intelligence programs have begun to master language, with ‘scary’ results, according to Vox. Indeed, for writers such as myself, a machine that can do my job in minutes—without having to sleep—is a troubling idea. In order to deal with all of this stress, I turned to artificial intelligence.
“The key is to believe that there are things you can do to manage and reduce stress at work, and then work actively to do those things. Ultimately, the best thing that can be done to reduce stress at work or manage to take control is to take control. By proactive stress management, you loosen the grip that stress has on you and regain control of your job and your life. Stress management in the workplace begins by identifying the common factors that lead to anxiety and stress, and establishing the most effective methods to reduce stress and minimize employee burnout.
There were many redundancies in its writing, but the overall message was clear. Later on, it even suggested that I try yoga in the office.
“Ultimately the best thing that can be done to reduce stress at work or manage to take control is to take control.”
Of course, its advice is often easier said than done, but we appreciate the effort it takes. There is an endearing quality about a robot trying to help a human. In fact, a “chatbot” designed to reduce stress in graduate students received a similar response.
Scientists Developed an AI that can Change Lives
Bonobot, developed by scientists in South Korea, conducts Motivational Interviews (MI).
Motivational interviews are inquisitions between a therapist and a client. The interviewer asks their patient questions regarding their current issues or dissatisfactions, then they ask about how they want those circumstances to change.
These conversations can be very enlightening for the interviewee, as they go through a journey of self-discovery primarily through vocalizing their own thoughts and feelings, rather than being prescribed action by their therapist.
Will AI replace Psychologists?
Unlike the content writing industry, Psychologists have no need to worry about being automated. While a motivational interview can achieve some of the same benefits as professional therapy, it is very limited in its scope. However, AI already out-paces humans in some regards.
Bonobot has two advantages over a human. First off, it can be accessed at any time of day and can potentially be available to a vast amount of people simultaneously. In 2020, the National Council for Behavioral Health reported that due to a sharp increase in demand, 65% of behavioral health organizations had to cancel, reschedule, or turn away patients.
The second advantage may be unsettling to some, but according to Bonobot’s first patients, its greatest appeal was its inability to cast any judgement upon them. Robots do not have the capacity to shame their patients and they have no ulterior motives in supporting them.
Where Bonobot falls short is its simplicity. It can not bring any new knowledge to the interview, as it is only programmed to take a patient’s problems as input, and then output the problem rephrased as a question.
Ironically, Bonobot’s greatest achievement was found in its largest gap between itself and the human interviewer it is supposed to replicate. Without the complex intelligence required to prescribe medications and detailed regimens, it can maintain the boundaries between interviewer and interviewee better than any human.
Meet ELIZA, The Psychotherapist Bot from the 70s
Computer science buffs may be privy to this project’s similarity to a groundbreaking program written in the 1970s, ELIZA. Programmed by Joseph Weizenbaum at M.I.T., ELIZA showed stunning results even in the early stages of its development.
He even reported that his secretary, who had been present during the majority of ELIZA’s development, asked Weizenbaum to leave the room during her session with the program.
Hire a Human for Workplace Wellness. Go Figure!
Despite our collective fixation on automating tasks in the name of efficiency, there is no robot that can understand the human condition—not yet, at least. Today, take the steps necessary for cultivating a healthy mindset and lifestyle for yourself and your office.
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