Chatbot for adults only
That’s the best thing about technology: it never forgets.” Woebot's brain, so to speak, also sets it apart from other health chatbots in general because it doesn’t rely on data from any source other than the words the user texts to it.
With Woebot, Darcy aims to address the epidemic of mental health conditions in America that are present alongside a shortage of adequate resources to treat them.
Not only are many people unable to access treatment due to things out of their control like cost or clinician shortages, but stigma and judgment hold many people back from pursuing mental health support, Darcy said.
Darcy, who worked in the Stanford AI lab and went on to enroll in the Ignite program at the university’s graduate business school, explained how Woebot was created from human-centered software design to build a “decision tree,” mimicking clinical decision-making with task-specific sections of natural language processing.
“When we were figuring out how to train Woebot, the obvious choice was therapy data. So we went the route of decision-making.” After developing the bot, the Woebot team conducted a randomized study (published today in the Journal of Medical Internet Research) at Stanford of 70 undergraduate and graduate students, asking them to use either Woebot or a self-help e-book over a two-week period.
“Woebot is completely a robot, and he doesn’t want you to forget it,” said Darcy.