Jan 03, 2018
By Anastasia Dyakovskaya
Applying psychographics to help support victims of the deadliest drug crisis in American history.
Drugs are ravaging America. Overdoses lead to more deaths than car crashes or guns for people under the age of 50, and are killing people at a faster clip than the H.I.V. crisis did at its peak.
Late last year, Stndby, an artificial intelligence messaging platform, launched a custom chatbot that helps those affected by addiction. This version of the system offers encouragement, motivation, and teachings, giving users ways to practice healthier behaviors and develop deeper awareness and coping skills. It can connect people to resources such as nearby rehabilitation centers, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and live human support. As well, the chatbot reminds users to explore additional content that was developed as part of Viacom’s Listen campaign to reduce the stigma around addiction.
Stndby’s founder and CEO Sashka Rothchild describes it as a digital tool that offers safe, anonymous, personalized support for those struggling with addiction personally or supporting someone who is, as well as a “way to better see themselves in the world and build a stronger inner tool kit.” While the chatbot’s features are still in the process of being developed, it’s part of the growing trend of using new technology to address health care concerns. “If we can empower the caregiver and the supporter, this is a very powerful weapon against this epidemic,” says Kodi Foster, Viacom’s SVP of data strategy.
We invited Rothchild and Foster to discuss the healing potential of A.I. and new technology.
"In many instances, A.I. is being used to solve problems that you probably don’t really need it to solve."
SB: Right. There are many companies that are leveraging bots and A.I. in a way that’s mostly transaction-based and in service of the convenience economy. Where’s my Uber? How do I book a hotel room faster? How do I get Patron to my hotel room within 30 minutes? Fine, that’s great. But there’s a hierarchy of problem-solving and we should be reassessing where and what we’re building.
We should be building solutions for needs that are important, that prop up our daily lives, and that can really take advantage of technology’s ability to deliver value and utility at scale.
KF: Ultimately, that’s what tech for good means to me; it’s not disruption for the sake of disruption, and it’s most certainly not disruption for the sake of profitability. It’s disruption with a purpose. And if you can find a purpose or a lighthouse that you think matters, that’s where technology becomes part of the greater good. Not something that feeds off of us, but something that feeds us.