© University of Plymouth / YouTube

In Future Counseling, They Might Be Robots

In a recent story in rt.com/uk, the use of algorithms as robot therapists gained good marks in a research study in Great Britain and Europe.

Researchers from the University of Plymouth’s School of Psychology tested whether the humanoid NAO robot could deliver a motivational interview (MI), a counseling technique that encourages people to talk about changing their behavior. Participants found the robot counseling “helpful” and “enjoyable,” with some sessions lasting up to an hour.

“We were pleasantly surprised by how easily the participants adapted to the unusual experience of discussing their lifestyle with a robot,” said lead author Professor Jackie Andrade. “As we have shown for the first time that a motivational interview delivered by a social robot can elicit out-loud discussion from participants.”

Robot counseling already exists. Psychotherapy chatbots counsel refugees with mental health problems arising from the trauma of the Syrian civil war. An AI startup in Silicon Valley, X2AI, tested the Karim chatbot on a group of 60 Syrians with mixed results.

Programmed with a set script to drive conversation on how the interviewee could get more exercise, participants in the study reported enjoying the experience. The report, published this month in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, said they liked that the robot did not interrupt when they were speaking.

read more at rt.com