“The Computer Will See You Now”


The Economist reports on “Ellie,” a programmed, virtual psychologist designed by researchers at the Institute for Creative Technologies in Los Angeles, who has a battery of sensory devices at her disposal to process and work out “the meaning of your pitch, your tone, your posture, everything.” According to a study discussed in the article, people felt more inclined to be honest and open about their emotional problems with Ellie than with a real person.

“Those who thought Ellie was under the control of a human operator reported greater fear of disclosing personal information, and said they managed more carefully what they expressed during the session, than did those who believed they were simply interacting with a computer,” reports The Economist. The researchers said they believe this could make their virtual psychologist a better detector of the need for early interventions than human mental health professionals.

The computer will see you now (The Economist, August 16, 2014)