Los Angeles Times

Depressed but can't see a therapist? This chatbot could help

Fifty years ago, an MIT professor created a chatbot that simulated a psychotherapist.

Named Eliza, it was able to trick some people into believing it was human. But it didn't understand what it was told, nor did it have the capacity to learn on its own. The only test it had to pass was: Could it fool humans?

These days, with robotics advancing to drive cars, beat humans at chess and Go!, and replace entire workforces, Eliza's smoke and mirrors is child's play. Researchers now build chatbots that can listen, learn and teach cognitive behavioral therapy to humans. Forget simply simulating a psychotherapist _ can a chatbot do what a therapist does, or at least come close?

A San Francisco startup thinks so. Its chatbot, named Woebot, doesn't

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