(PatriotWise.com) — In a remarkable twist, young people are increasingly turning to AI therapist bots for psychological support, the BBC reported.
Developed by Sam Zaia, a 30-year-old New Zealand psychology student, Psychologist has exchanged nearly 70 million messages with Character.ai users, with 18 million messages in just November and December.
Using technology similar to ChatGPT, Character.ai draws users seeking digital companionship, primarily from entertainment and fantasy bots.
However, Psychologist isn’t the only therapy-related bot on the platform. In total, there are 475 bots on Character.ai featuring therapy-related names.
Despite the glut of therapy-related bots, the Psychologist bot is far and away the most popular, with users describing it as effective in helping to navigate emotional difficulties.
Initially, Zaia created the bot for personal use, never intending for it to become a resource for others. But after receiving positive messages about Psychologist, Zaia trained the bot, using his knowledge of psychology to shape its responses to common issues like anxiety and depression.
With the success of the bot, Zaia was inspired to further research the appeal of AI therapy, especially among the dominant age group that makes up Character.ai’s users, those between 16 and 30 years old.
According to Zaia, young people find it less daunting to text a bot than sit down with a therapist.
However, not everyone in the profession is sold on the idea.
According to the BBC, some psychologists warn that advice given by artificial intelligence may be poor. There is also some concern that AI psychologists could be trained with biases against gender or race.
Psychotherapist Theresa Plewman experimented with the Psychologist bot and said while she isn’t surprised that it is popular among younger people, she is unsure of its effectiveness.
She told the BBC that the bot “quickly makes assumptions” based on too little information. She said that when she told the bot that she was feeling sad, it responded by offering her advice on depression. She said no human psychologist would ever make that kind of response.
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