"HI, I'M WOEBOT. I'M READY TO LISTEN, 24/7. NO COUCHES, NO MEDS, NO CHILDHOOD STUFF. JUST STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE YOUR MOOD. AND THE OCCASIONAL DORKY JOKE.
My mouth was left open when I read the above words on their website. Indeed it was mixed feelings for me. One of excitement, anticipation and of course a tinge of dread at what the world is turning into- robots taking the place of humans.
One thing that excites me about technology is that so far, it has been used to make life a whole lot easier for mankind. Just when I thought there was nothing more to be made Woebot was dropped hot on our laps.
Woebot is a chatbot aimed at helping users with anxiety and depression. It is from a robot named Woebot, the brainchild of Stanford University psychologist Alison Darcy. Darcy the maker of woebot said " It’s hard to be annoyed with the cheery Woebot, whose personality Darcy said she modeled after Kermit the Frog. After two weeks of chatting, the robot has heard more about my daily moods than any of my friends."
Here are some of the testimonies of users
This app is currently accessible from the app's official website and on Facebook messenger as a chatbot.
It, however, must be mentioned that there are privacy concerns especially with its connectedness to Facebook since Facebook says it collects information including when users “message or communicate with others” in order to “provide, improve and develop services. In a response, SpokesWoman, Mindstrong, the health company that helped build Woebot, Jennifer Hakes said "Messenger abides by Facebook’s data policy, but “we do not read the content of messages between people or people and businesses.”
Darcy, the psychologis and brain behind Woebot, promises that Woebot won’t sell customer information and the company’s employees only view anonymized responses. The app works on Facebook Messenger.
However, Darcy revealed that she can’t vouch for how Facebook will use the data.
In Nigeria as well as some other parts of the African continent where people with depression are seen and treated with some kind of stigma, the Woebot app might be a step in the right direction. Despite the awareness that has been created to ensure that people go to psychologists when depression hits, a lot of people either hide or live in denial for fear of stigmatization. The mobile phone is a very personal device, so if chatting with W6oebot can help diagnose and help the depressed, we can say a very big welcome to Woebot.