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AI chatbot by U of A aims to combat loneliness among seniors

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A University of Alberta artificial intelligence expert is behind a project meant to provide isolated seniors with companionship. Osmar Zaïane is the project head for the Automated Nursing Program, an in-development chatbot designed to simulate dynamic conversation and provide social fulfilment for elders experiencing loneliness. We don't have enough nursing homes for everybody and not everyone wants to go to nursing homes," Zaïane said. "Often they lose their partner in life, so they live at home, alone, and their families are far away. The project differs from popular chatbots like Siri and Alex, which are task-oriented, meaning they respond to inputs to perform functions like playing a song or turning on the lights.


Artificial Intelligence Used To Predict Loneliness In Senior Citizens

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Researchers at the University of California and IBM have used machine learning and natural language ... [ ] processing to predict loneliness in senior citizens in San Diego County, California. Researchers have used artificial intelligence to accurately predict loneliness in residents at a senior housing community in San Diego. Publishing in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the researchers were able to harness natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to classify the sentiment and emotions of speech. At a time when the coronavirus pandemic is forcing people to remain in social isolation, the study by researchers from the University of California, IBM and elsewhere could prove vital in helping society assess and address widespread loneliness. However, while technology is providing ever-more powerful means of identifying societal problems such as loneliness, it remains questionable as to whether such problems can be solved by tech alone.


Artificial Intelligence Tools Predict Loneliness – ScienceBlog.com – IAM Network

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For the past couple of decades, there has been a loneliness pandemic, marked by rising rates of suicides and opioid use, lost productivity, increased health care costs and rising mortality. The COVID-19 pandemic, with its associated social distancing and lockdowns, have only made things worse, say experts. Accurately assessing the breadth and depth of societal loneliness is daunting, limited by available tools, such as self-reports. In a new proof-of-concept paper, published online September 24, 2020 in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, a team led by researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine used artificial intelligence technologies to analyze natural language patterns (NLP) to discern degrees of loneliness in older adults. "Most studies use either a direct question of ' how often do you feel lonely,' which can lead to biased responses due to stigma associated with loneliness or the UCLA Loneliness Scale which does not explicitly use the word'lonely,'" said senior author Ellen Lee, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine.


AI can detect how lonely you are by analysing your speech

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Artificial intelligence (AI) can detect loneliness with 94 per cent accuracy from a person's speech, a new scientific paper reports. Researchers in the US used several AI tools, including IBM Watson, to analyse transcripts of older adults interviewed about feelings of loneliness. By analysing words, phrases, and gaps of silence during the interviews, the AI assessed loneliness symptoms nearly as accurately as loneliness questionnaires completed by the participants themselves, which can be biased. It revealed that lonely individuals tend to have longer responses to direct questions about loneliness, and express more sadness in their answers. 'Most studies use either a direct question of "how often do you feel lonely", which can lead to biased responses due to stigma associated with loneliness,' said senior author Ellen Lee at UC San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine.


'Loneliness can be deadly, so replacing doctors with chatbots is hardly going to help'

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The AI company that produces Babylon, a diagnostic bot that will only get smarter, claims it outperforms real people in diagnostic medical tests. We are now having that bizarre, futuristic conversation: Could doctors be replaced by bots? Could we be getting our primary medical care from our smartphones? Who to trust: human or bot? There are so many fascinating, prickly issues that pop up here.