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AI Empathy Agent

Developing an AI Empathy Agent

Led by Dr Fuschia Sirois, University of Sheffield, in association with University of East London and the Institute of Cultural Capital (University of Liverpool)

Current e-therapies lack empathy; they are often experienced as cold and not personally relevant. This project will test the feasibility of developing an Empathy Agent (EA) that will address these issues, delivering empathic support via smartphones, powered by a Peer Support Community of service users (SUs). The feasibility study will test how SUs respond to and interact with a mock EA across three phases. The first phase will involve generating a bank of supportive responses from the SU community via an online survey. In the second phase, workshops and focus groups will simulate how the EA functions as an intermediary between the SU community and individual SUs using the crowd-sourced response bank. In the third phase, focus group feedback will be analysed to gain an understanding of both the feasibility of crowdsourcing the EA’s responses, and the SU experience of the process. User feedback is vital to evaluating the viability of delivering empathic support through the AI. The results will also inform a report that will be shared with key networks and stakeholders in the areas of peer support and mental health technology. This will create new possibilities for collaboration for two major areas of development in mental health.

See also: Institute of Cultural Capital