Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Now the popular media, not just geeks and the intelligentsia, are beginning to talk about the impending developments in artificial intelligence and other scientific areas. An article in the New York Times "Style" section (no less?!) - which typically discusses the latest runway fashion and lipstick colors - asked: "Who is making sure that all of this innovation does not go drastically wrong?"
Well the Future of Life Institute for one, an organization that seeks to “mitigate existential risks facing humanity” from “human-level artificial intelligence.”
And there are others. The Lifeboat Foundation is a nonprofit that tries to help humanity combat the “existential risks” of genetic engineering, nanotechnology and the so-called singularity, which refers to the hypothetical moment when artificial intelligence surpasses the human intellect.
Philosophers and scientists at Cambridge University formed the Center for Study of Existential Risk, with the goal to ensure “that our own species has a long-term future.”
And these are good things. Cutting edge.
But the world of U.S. mental health lags far, far behind. I lecture about social media and technology's impact on psychotherapy and employee assistance programs.
And what do people in the audience ask me? Whether or not to deliver services via video counseling!!!
People - that ship has sailed.
And while practitioners in the US remain frozen within the boundaries of their states, the rest of the world has moved on. We are no longer in a leadership position - we are lagging behind.
Some of you will remember sixties activist Abbie Hoffman who famously wrote "Steal This Book." It was all about shaking people out of their complacency, challenging the status quo, and thinking outside the box of convention.
Here is my 21st century version of that exhortation: provide video counseling!
Across state lines.
A whole lot of providers are doing it already. Have been doing it for years. Were doing it before the computer - providing counseling across state lines on the telephone. No one has been sued. Ever. Those archaic state licensing laws are going to be abolished, replaced by national licensure.
Because the Millenials and the generation behind them are going to demand, are already demanding:
1. video counseling
2. the ability to make appointments via text or by screaming into their Apple Watch
3. something you haven't even thought about yet because most clinicians are not future oriented.
It concerns me that the people who are putting together these think tanks about the future are not mental health professionals. I think we need to put our unique heads together and ponder the future of the field.
My 21 year old son believes that 20 years from now, human talk therapy will be obsolete. Most major mental illnesses will be biologically treatable. And the rest of our clients will be talking to highly skilled and responsive artificial intelligence entities who will be available to them 24/7.
Steal that book.