She's sitting on a purple armchair, nodding slowly as she talks. "When was the last time you felt really happy?" Her voice is low and measured, with the gently broken glottal quality that one might expect of a computer simulation, her ethnicity undefined, her cardigan beige. Ellie, an artificial intelligence therapist created with funding from the US government agency responsible for the development of military technologies, is capable of reading 60 non-verbal cues a second. She wears a watch and a look of blank empathy.
The UK government has announced plans to ban controversial and long-discredited "gay conversion therapies" that claim to help gay people become straight, and transgender people revert to the gender they were designated at birth. The move follows a nationwide survey of 108,000 LGBT people in the UK, which revealed that 2 per cent of them had undergone conversion therapy, and a further 5 per cent had been offered it. Such treatments, also known as reparative therapy, have long been denounced as pseudoscience and potentially harmful.
Cancer patients who use complementary therapies may be more likely to shun conventional treatments and risk their chances of survival, research suggests. A study of 1,290 patients in the US found people who received such therapies often refused life-saving care such as chemotherapy or surgery. Fewer of them survived five years after starting treatment compared to those on standard care, researchers found. Experts urged patients not to ditch proven cancer medicines. Researchers said the use of complementary therapies, which range from diets, minerals and vitamin infusions to yoga and acupuncture, was growing in the US but there was limited research on how effective they are.
A new light-emitting device that can be implanted in the body could be used to treat cancer. Photodynamic therapy, which is already used to treat some cancers, involves the patient taking a drug that makes cells vulnerable to light. One difficulty is that if the tumour is located in an organ that moves, such as the oesophagus or the lung, the illumination is irregular, which makes it hard to control the dose. If the dose is too small, the treatment won't work, and if it's too high, it can damage healthy tissue by overheating it. To overcome this problem, some researchers have tried to develop ways to deliver light at a lower intensity for a longer period of time by implanting optical fibres inside the body.
I have already devoted a great deal of time to the study of Artificial intelligence, robotics and automation, which are coming to healthcare and the field of Occupational Therapy as well. I look forward to serving on the forefront of novel uses for technological advancement in our field. In particular, I will always be an avid reader and a concerned professional with respect to assuring that new technologies are designed and implemented in ethically and socially responsible ways. As an OT professional, I especially look forward to extensive collaboration with mental health professionals, therapists, counselors and social workers in order to improve outcomes for our clients. I will take special pride in helping people to reduce time spent in the hospital, by improving the quality of their lives and their capacity for self-care.