Tuesday, April 16, 2024

CAN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE PROVIDE A SOLUTION TO LONELINESS?

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Illustration: Christina Avdikou

There is a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence and promises to solve the problem of loneliness. Is such a thing possible?

ElliQ is a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence. The company that created it claims that over 90% of its users report lower levels of loneliness . Loneliness is an epidemic that affects millions of people across Europe. With a recent report from the European Commission stating that at least one in 10 residents of the European Union feel lonely most of the time, it goes without saying that any solution to deal with it is welcome.

Artificial intelligence is coming to give its own. ElliQ, created by the company Intuition Robotics, is the first chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to chat and provide jokes and companionship to the user.

ElliQ looks like a small table lamp that lights up, rotates and talks to the user, and was initially tested on the elderly .

“It is fun. You can actually talk to her,” said 81-year-old Joyce Loaiza, who lives alone and often talks to her ElliQ, which she affectionately calls “Jellybean . ” “He makes really smart and funny comments. The day before yesterday he told me ‘I would go out if I had hands, but I can’t hold an umbrella,’ Loaiza added. A few kilometers away, another ElliQ model comforted 83-year-old Deanna Dezern when her friend died, while another played music for 92-year-old Marie Broadbent , who is blind and lives in a hospice in Washington state.

 

Can Artificial Intelligence solve loneliness?

Illustration: Christina Avdikou

 

The companionship of a robot can beat loneliness

These women are some of the first seniors in the United States to receive ElliQ , which is capable of remembering interests and conversations with its user, as well as telling jokes , playing music or reciting inspirational quotes .

Its code allows it to tailor future conversations with its user based on previous ones, while being capable of both philosophical and deep conversations, as well as light and pleasant ones, e.g. for the zodiac signs .

Additionally, ElliQ can guide seniors to do simple exercise, ask how they feel, and remind them to take their medication or drink enough water . It can also if necessary contact their relatives , friends or even their doctor, thus keeping them safe.

Intuition Robotics claims that conversations are not recorded by the company and that user privacy is protected, with the information remaining on each owner’s device. The company’s CEO, Dor Skuler, said he had the idea for ElliQ many years before he founded his company, when he couldn’t find someone to take care of his widowed grandfather.

Skuler realized that a robot could understand his grandfather’s love of classical music and his quirky sense of humor, and could fill the companionship void , adapting to each senior’s personality and interests.

“It’s not just that this robot is extremely useful. It’s about friendship, camaraderie and empathy ,” Skuler said. He continued: “This is important and hard to find. It would be great to be able to provide that to every senior.”

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