Woebot, a company that operates a chatbot that provides assistance related to mental health, has recently appointed Andrew Ng as its chairman.
Woebot is a digital therapist that was developed by Stanford University researchers, and the bot can provide people assistance with several mental health-related issues, such as tracking your mood changes on a weekly basis, teaching you techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy, and being there to assist you 24/7 to help you feel better.
Woebot provides assistance at odd hours, so if your therapist is not available to take calls late at night, Woebot can always provide assistance. While it is being made clear that Woebot is not a replacement for a human therapist, it can certainly provide aid to people in their time of need.
According to a study done by the Stanford University, people who received help from Woebot reported a decrease in anxiety and depression symptoms after just two weeks.
Previously, Ng was one of the co-founders of the Google Brain project, and he was also the chief scientist at Baidu. Ng made efforts to develop and apply the latest artificial intelligence technologies at Google and Baidu.
“If you look at the societal need, as well as the ability of AI to help, I think that digital mental-health care checks all the boxes,” Ng says. “If we can take a little bit of the insight and empathy [of a real therapist] and deliver that, at scale, in a chatbot, we could help millions of people.”
During an interview Ng said that his role at Woebot will be to provide support for its work; however, he won’t be taking up a full-time job at the startup. Currently, he is also working on finishing his series of deep learning courses for Coursera, an online learning site that he co-founded.
According to Ng, machine learning could provide a massive benefit in the mental-health arena, one of the reasons why he is keen to work with Woebot.