Robot Drug Counselor Helping Addicts in China

How comfortable are we with artificial intelligence? The answer probably ranges. Flipping hamburgers? Sure. Driving us around? Ehhh maybe. Offering psychological counseling? Hmmmmm. Well, one district in China has begun using a robot to help counsel and analyze drug addicts.

In the Chinese city of Guangzhou, the district’s narcotics control commission and a Chinese tech firm have teamed up to create a talking robot that helps aid substance abusers. The robot’s name is Tianche No. E and it’s recently started human-machine counseling at a rehab center in the Nansha district.

Robots May Make Addicts More Comfortable

Okay, we know what you are thinking. Artificial Intelligence is great but this is a little bit ridiculous. And it may be but many addicts often do not feel comfortable talking to another person about their issues. They may feel like they are being judged or just embarrassed. Talking to a robot may help keep things less personal and allow an addict to open up a bit more.

According to local officials, the robot counselors also have some benefits over their human counterparts. They claim that the “Tianche No. E” has helped reduce paperwork by over 80 percent.

“Traditional counseling may have problems like repetitive questioning, complicated process of archiving and a lack of analysis,” said Yang Qingqiu, deputy commander of the district anti-drug brigade.

Robot Drug Counselor China - YellRobot

Robot Drug Counselor Uses Facial Recognition to Identify Patient

The user swipes an ID card to start the session and the drug counseling robot uses facial recognition to properly identify them. Using algorithms and big data, the Tianche No. E  offers individual counseling and a psychological evaluation. It will also remind patients of upcoming urine tests. At the end of a session, the AI will generate a report.

One former drug addict said he did feel more comfortable answering questions from a robot than human counselors.  He said it was easier to be truthful and it led to him getting the help he needed. Local officials say they have plans to add robot drug counselors to other rehab centers in the district.

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