Blog: How New Technology Can Help People with Mental Illness
There could one day be a technology that helps us find a cure for the sufferers in the world
When we think of new technology like artificial intelligence, our mind may dwell on only the bad things we hear from the media.
“AI will become self-aware and take over the world! Haven’t you seen Terminator?”
“Computers and robots are taking our jobs!”
Humans focus on the bad, and sadly, don’t see the good that technology can do for us. Imagine what we can dream if we know that technology could be used for the betterment of humankind? Imagine a world so advanced that computers can help us solve the worst of our problems?
What if new technology could even help people who have a mental illness?
The future looks bright
When people think of using technology to help our mental health, most likely they think of smartphone apps and online support groups. While these are helpful, they haven’t advanced enough to a point where they could replace the one-on-one you get from a therapist or in-person support group.
What if we took the concept of an app for your phone a little further?
Have you heard of a magic mirror? This technology uses a two-way mirror to display information like weather and news. Rushi Patel even wrote a guide to help you build your own mirror with Raspberry Pi and Alexa.
There are videos to help you build your own as well:
But these mirrors are getting even more sophisticated with time. Some of them use facial recognition to figure out your mental state. There are some that have sensors that can detect things like body temperature and heart rate. You can interface with the mirror using only your voice.
What if we were able to combine all this technology with AI and create a system that could immediately figure out your mental and physical health and make suggestions accordingly? What if the AI could recognize that you are in crisis? Then it could help you contact doctors and therapists to help you get through the emergency?
What if the AI did become aware and was so sophisticated that it could replace human doctors? We could have access to help 24/7. How much would the suicide rate go down if we had easy access to a knowledgeable professional (even if it was a computer) at all times? What if you could be monitored for small changes to your mood and mental state constantly?
“Oh, I wouldn’t trust a computer with my mental health!”
But you will trust a fallible human being, who may or may not be acting on a bias and making decisions without all the information available to them. You are putting your lives in the hands of doctors who may be at the end of a 24-hour shift. These doctors may have just confused you with one of the 100 other patents they have seen in the last day.
I’ve been there. I’d take my chances with an AI for once.
What do we have to do to change your attitude?
We are far from the point of artificial doctors and apps that can detect if you are in crisis. But we will never get there if we, as a society, are afraid to put our faith in technology. If we give in to the constant fear-mongering, we will never see how much better our lives can be because of technology.
Advancements in artificial intelligence, mobile connectivity like 5G and 6G, and quantum computing will usher in a new reality for us. It will introduce an age where our lives will be easier because we can rely on technology to take care of the troublesome and unwieldy things. Our lives will be better because technology will help us to work, play, love, heal, and survive.
You may think I’m putting too much faith in technology. I know I’m not putting enough.
I imagine a time where we finally have the answers we need to cure mental illness. I know we can get there if we put our trust in technology one and for all. We must realize that it could hold the key to eradicating something that has plagued us for far too long.
Magic mirrors with AI, voice and face recognition, and body sensors are only the beginning of what technology can do to improve our mental health. The only limit we have is our own imagination and the fear we feel. Our fear can keep us from moving past where we are stuck now. Fear drives dogma: both political and religious. And dogma could be the biggest reason people don’t trust technology.
Have you already made up your mind about technology or can you be open to the possibilities available to the mentally ill?
These possibilities are available through technology if we only dare to dream the future.