Why Virtual Therapy Could Be Better than the Real Thing

Thanks to advantages in facial recognition technology and natural language analysis, virtual therapists can "understand" humans better than ever before.

Thanks to advantages in facial recognition technology and natural language analysis, virtual therapists can "understand" humans better than ever before. Developed by the Institute for Creative Technologies in Los Angeles, one virtual therapist named Ellie can measure your smile (whether it's ironic or sincere), spot a nervous tic, and determine the meaning of your tone of voice and your posture. She will also analyze speech patterns to determine how forthcoming you are about your true thoughts and feelings.


Were humans always willing to level with their professional caretakers about their psychological state, there might not be a need for virtual therapists. Those most in need of therapy, however, such as soldiers returning home from war, are also the most likely to avoid it. But when therapy is virtual, people are more likely to divulge information that can be useful in developing treatment. In a experiment of 239 individuals who were given sessions with virtual counselor Ellie, those were told the truth (that Ellie was a computer) expressed more personal information than those told a human was controlling what Ellie said. 

Read more at Business Insider

Photo credit: Shutterstock

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less