Well Being

This Robot Detects Depression, But Could It Really Help?

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Unfortunately, it is not this robot.

Technology has become increasingly desirable to people seeking help with — well, anything. It's easy, convenient and you don't have to deal with those pesky fellow human beings we all can't stand. Now, there's a virtual therapist who can theoretically diagnose depression.

The “robot,” titled SimSensai, uses a system of cameras to judge facial expressions, body language, gestures and voice. The program, designed by psychologist Albert Rizzo and computer scientist Louis-Philippe Morency of the University of Southern California, compares all these qualities to those of people with depression and those without it. It then judges whether or not the person has depression.

Here's a video of people speaking to SimSensai:

While I do feel this is an incredible feat, I am a bit apprehensive about the direction that this could go in. What if people were to be depressed, but ashamed of that fact and perhaps extremely adept at concealing it. I'm sure this program is advanced and excellent at detecting many people's depression, but it bothers me to imagine that this type of diagnostic tool could perhaps replace that of humans who, while obviously imperfect, are often better at understanding emotions and the complexities of actually being human. I'm curious to see how this tool winds up being used and on whom, as well as the results.

Image: Shutterstock