JULY 8, 2020 — According to a national government survey, about half of Americans suffer from a mental illness. Yet the majority of those with mental illness don't receive any therapeutic treatment. It’s for this reason that the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired a surge of companies to provide smartphone psychotherapy with artificial intelligence and big data analytics.
Now, bioethicists at UTSA have shown in new research that until the industry has more data on detection, treatment effectiveness, and better patient-privacy regulations, it should caution further funding of these therapeutic approaches.
“Robots should not be used in lieu of therapists,” said assistant professor of philosophy Şerife Tekin, who works in the intersection of philosophy, biomedicine and artificial intelligence at UTSA. “My biggest concern is that there is not enough research on how effective these technologies are.”
Computerized therapy that uses artificial intelligence was first recommended in 2006 as a way of providing cognitive behavioral therapy for treatment of depression, panic and phobias. However, in April of this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the FDA decided to change its guidance and permit the health industry to increase the use of digital health devices without further clinical trials for treating psychiatric disorders.
Now, providers such as Woebot, a chatbot providing CBT for individuals, operate in the telepsychotherapy industry, exchanging 4.7 million messages with people per week.
Digital phenotyping refers to the practice of using a cell phone to monitor active and passive data and serve as an early warning system of a person’s mental health condition. Those that support this computerized therapy say that chatbots, through their use of CBT use structured exercises, encourage a person to examine and change their habits of thought.
Tekin argues, though, that the data gathered from the artificially intelligent chatbots may not be all that accurate. According to Tekin, data for the efficacy of this therapeutic approach is only based on a limited number of studies that usually rely on small noncontrolled and nonrandomized samples. There is also little evidence that results are sustained beyond three months.
Some psychotherapy chatbots rely on the incorrect assumption that participants will be able to report their moods accurately. Moreover, many services are self-directed and the user is in charge of tracking and reporting. This might limit the monitoring of mental and behavioral phenomena such as in the case of schizophrenia. There is also the risk of misdiagnosing. For example, a user may simply choose to ignore a service prompt but the chatbot will take this as social withdrawal and consequently a sign of mental distress.
⇒ Explore Şerife Tekin’s work in artificial intelligence at UTSA.
“I recommend that research funding should be allotted cautiously to develop and test the efficacy of this technology at this early stage,” said Tekin. “Furthermore, ethical questions and concerns need to be included in the development process of this technology from the very beginning; ethics cannot be an afterthought.”
Tekin’s research was published in the Journal of Philosophy and Technology. She currently is at work with artificial intelligence engineers at UTSA to develop a more holistic and ethical approach to digital phenotyping.
UTSA Main Campus will serve as a designated polling station during the early voting period, today through October 30, and on Election Day, November 3.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104)
The First Generation and Transfer Student Center (FGTSC), Transfer and Transition Student Success Services (T2S3), and Alamo Runners invite you to join the virtual fun as we celebrate National Transfer Student Week. UTSA is enriched by transfer students who bring their diverse experiences, backgrounds, and assets to our campus. National Transfer Student Week seeks to celebrate, empower, and support transfer students with events and workshops specifically designed for transfers.Virtual Event
Join Student Health Services as we discuss Intellectual Wellbeing with TRC - Academic Success Coaching.Virtual Event
Are you missing our Roost Tournaments? We will be having our UFC 3 tournament and our tournaments are now back to Wednesdays! Sign up and show us your skills. See if you have what it takes to be our champion.Virtual Event
Dr. Mo. Jamshidi is an Endowed chaired professor at the University of Texas-San Antonio. He is a Persian Native, born in Shiraz, Iran in 1944. He was an advisor to NASA for 10 years (including with the first MARS Mission and seven years with NASA Headquarters (Washington, DC), among other organizations. He has over 800 technical publications including 74 books in English and 5 foreign languages. For the past 20 years, he has been collecting data on Persian Scientists and Poets from 1000 BC to 2021 AD. This presentation will be about the book written by Dr. Jamshidi that collects information on Persian scientists and poets.Virtual Event
Join this informative, interactive webinar with practical tips on how to plan your charitable giving now and for the future. Michael Perkins, member of the UTSA Alumni Association and the UTSA College of Business Accounting Advisory Board, is no stranger to gift planning. As managing partner and CEO of Slattery Perkins Ramirez P.C. (“SPR”) his primary areas of focus include counseling business owners, executives, and other high net worth individuals on personal financial issues, including estate planning, wealth transfer, and income tax planning techniques. Michael also practices philanthropy himself – establishing an endowed scholarship at UTSA as well as supporting numerous charitable causes throughout San Antonio.Virtual Event
UTSA Main Campus is a voting poll for Election Day on November 3.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.