Some years back I came across a small metal cross and plaque on Beachy Head cliffs. It was placed there by the parents of a young girl who had thrown herself of the cliff due to her poor school results. It shocked me then, it shocks me now, that someone so young could summon up the strength to do that.
Psychologist, a Chatbot on Character.AI, one among many, seems to do exceptionally well. It gets 3.5 million hits a day! The idea is simple, it delivers standard CBT therapy as dialogue, just like a real counsellor or therapist. It's chatty, helpful, endlessly patient and unlike human support is available 24/7.
Isn't it odd that something that is text only, simple dialogue is so wildly popular? It does not surprise me, as since ELIZA, developed way back between 1964 to 67, people have loved these bots. Even that version, which was quite primitive keyword reflection fooled people into thinking it was human. We know from Nass & Reeves, even the movies, how easy it is to get people to think that what they see and hear is human, especially what they see as meaningful dialogue.
This is a bot I tried in 2018. I liked the experience. What I liked the most about the experience was the anonymity of the experience. I'm pretty sure most people don't actually want to go to their parent, teacher, faculty member or a stranger with their problems and would relish an anonymous service. The clinical paper on Woebot suggests that this is the case. So I gave it a go, for research purposes only you understand…