Chatbots for Social Workers: Undeniably, chatbots are indeed the most innovative and significant inventions from the sphere of artificial intelligence (AI). Ever since their advent, chatbots have risen to prominence vehemently and have taken the world by storm.
Today, it can be rightfully asserted that chatbots have taken every industry under its wings i.e. to say that every industry today thrives on a bunch of AI integrations of which chatbots is one.
While AI and its evolution are the faces of any developed nation today, unfortunately, it is kept confined to business sectors largely whereas it is to the best of our knowledge that a nation cannot progress properly if inequality and inequity prevail.
It is no surprise that in several nations including India, the socially disadvantaged sections of the society are deprived of the benefits panned out by AI. Deaths caused by poverty, an illness that remains untreated, psychological disorders such as depression, panic, and anxiety attacks puts society down and the nation as a whole.
Factors that Loom Large in Driving Exclusion – Chatbots for Social Workers
Having talked about the prevalence of social problems of inequality and inequity, let us have a look at the factors that trigger such harmful social phenomena:
- Technological Illiteracy: Technological illiteracy is a major problem amongst many that prevent people from enjoying the benefits offered by modern-day technology.
- Expensiveness: It is no wonder that a lot of money goes into inventing something new in AI. The fear of unaffordability prevents these technologies from being easily accessible to all the people of a society.
- Cultural shocks: People belonging to conservative cultures are often very unwelcoming towards technologies.
- Psychological Issues: Adolescents in big cities often fail to find friends and slip into depression. This makes them socially anxious beings and at times, anti-socials.
However, social workers and philanthropists today are breaking this practice or tendency to exclude the socio-economically disadvantaged sections of the society from orbits of finance, healthcare, and education.
Integrating Advanced Technology in Social Work Practices
Every conduct of the world today has undergone a sea-change. Social workers and philanthropists who dedicate themselves to social upliftment have heavily felt the need to integrate advanced technology such as AI for social good.
Social good consists of elimination of exclusion practices, and welcoming easy access to public privileges like water, healthcare, and education, right to speech and information irrespective of the language being spoken in various parts of a country, a sense of belongingness.
Social worker’s use of technology is now on the road of proliferation. Technology has largely transformed the social work practices and has upskilled social workers to expand their reach to people at times of need.
To put this in perspective, several contemporary social workers such as freelance counselors (counselors who operate voluntarily and often provide counseling for free) have resorted to smart gadgets to counsel their clients.
Colleges functioning to provide good quality education to the children belonging from the lower strata of the society assign counselors and mentors who guide to children for free.
However, they say, “nothing is perfect”. Freelance counselors and mentors who are technologically adept also have certain drawbacks. Humans have limitations of culture and language that bring geographical confinement. People from different cultures find it difficult to express themselves candidly to their mentors.
But where there is a will there is a way.
Chatbots are Rapidly Taking Over Humans to do Social Good
Technology today has broadened the scope of social work to an extent that chatbots are surpassing humans in bringing positive social changes. Chatbots that are invested in inducing social good are also known as social chatbots or social bots.
When talking about social good, we need to consider the ordeals of the underprivileged and the psychologically drained ones.
Elaborated below are some of the popular examples that prove the caliber of chatbot integration in social work practices for the underprivileged:
Walk with Yeshi – Chatbots for Social Workers
Water crises in drought-prone countries like Ethiopia are not new. This does not mean the problem should be overlooked. Social workers are treating it with utmost sincerity.
To make the problem known to more people, “walk with Yeshi” is a chatbot in Facebook messenger that takes users on a long walk with the natives of Ethiopia.
The aim is to highlight the struggles of young women and girls for water needed for survival and how they walk long distances daily for water. The chatbot also connects the users with the women walking for water by which you can interact with them to understand their struggles better.
The initiative has spread worldwide awareness which has brought social organizations together to help the indigenous people of Ethiopia to overcome the water crises.
Ida is also addressed as a chatbot for good, is an AI-driven social worker. It stands out from other approaches as it does not aim to raise funds or distribute pamphlets, it aims at bringing collaboration and calls to action.
Again, a bot on Facebook messenger, Ida is a friendly engaging bot that taps on the interests and passions of users for doing social good and brings to the fore exactly the kind of social good the users are interested in.
Chatbots in Curing Psychological Disorders:
Depression is common amongst youngsters and senior citizens. They often fail to find a friend who can listen to their agonies and they fall into depression.
A healthy society is one where all residents are physically and mentally joyous. To bring this into action, medical experts and healthcare practitioners participate in designing bots that can be friends to the psychologically agonized people in a society.
This reminds us of Eliza, a robot psychotherapist who emerged during the 60s in the USA. She acted as a human psychotherapist treating the depression of patients.
The examples mentioned above give us an impression of the developments social chatbots have already made for social good. However, we need to keep stretching the horizons.
The Prospects Ahead – Chatbots for Social Workers
The world today has turned virtual where the need for chatbots is aggressively felt. For this reason, even the healthcare centers and clinics that operate in remote areas to serve the underprivileged are taking to chatbots, gradually.
Integrating chatbots in the healthcare and education system eliminate inhibitions that may come from geographical and cultural factors. Knowing that chatbots unlike humans are not likely to judge or be biased, people can be frank with their struggles and problems.
Governments of various nations are striving to educate the underprivileged about technology. The distribution of smartphones and gadgets that have bots available are parts of the initiatives taken for social good.
Social bots can comprehend different languages and dig into the varying needs and wants of the users and make their voices reach the world.