The Risks and Challenges of AI Chatbots Providing Health Tips

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Recently, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) of the US took down an artificial intelligence chatbot, ‘Tessa’, after reports that the chatbot was providing harmful advice to its users. In a statement, Liz Thompson, NEDA’s CEO, said the chatbot was not meant to replace the helpline but was rather created as a separate programme. Thompson clarified that the chatbot is not run by ChatGPT and is “not a highly functional AI system”.

AI health tips provide users with a variety of information such as the symptoms, diagnosis and even the treatment and prevention. Through various videos, posts and reels these health tips from the Large Language Models (LLMs) are presented as if these are human-written tips, which make these look more credible. However, there are a number of potential risks associated with using these AI health tips.

AI doctors sharing chatbot advice as health remedies

A video on a Facebook page shows a doctor sharing tips on eating healthy food to gain weight. Another AI-generated video shares a ‘remedy’ to keep gums and teeth healthy. These are among the many AI videos which suggest home remedies and, in some cases, also offer symptoms and cure for certain diseases.

So how are these videos created? Making such videos is simple and there are tutorials available on YouTube. The creators usually generate an AI image, animate it, and add visuals and voice.

It should also be noted that the application of AI in the healthcare sector has several legal issues involved, since there are no specific laws to deal with it in India.

But do these videos offer accurate advice and should you trust them? Here’s what Google Bard and ChatGPT have to say:

Google Bard: It is important to be critical of AI health tips and to consult with a healthcare professional before following any advice.

ChatGPT: AI health tips can be safe and useful tools for health information, but users should approach them with critical thinking, verify the sources, and consult with healthcare professionals for any medical concerns or questions.

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Doctors and experts, however, caution against following these health tips.

“These remedies that the videos show are all age-old remedies. Many use it as a primary remedy before consulting doctors. I don’t think there is enough research and data regarding these health tips. It is not safe to follow anything blindly. Instead of relying on AI’s fed brilliance, we should embrace doctor’s knowledge which can be tailor made for the patients,” said Dr Vandana Kate, President, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Nagpur.

Clinical dietician Malvvika Fulwani said, “I would recommend using these tips, if you read anything verify it with scientific evidence. If these tips are accompanied with a research paper then maybe you can use them, else not.” She also suggests seeing a doctor instead of using these health tips.

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First published on: 07-10-2023 at 13:14 IST


Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama, a lifelong enthusiast of Artificial Intelligence, has been exploring technology and the digital realm since childhood. Known for his creative thinking, he's dedicated to improving AI experiences for all, making him a respected figure in the field. His passion, curiosity, and creativity drive advancements in the AI world.