Artificial Intelligence and the brain

‘Big Brain Revolution: Artificial Intelligence – Spy or Saviour?’ (Austin Macauley Publishers) by Michelle Tempest, reviewed by Dr Joshua Bourne.

As a psychologist, do you embrace artificial intelligence (AI) technology or do you shy away from it? AI technology can be used through video monitoring technology – Avatar applications – that can show signs of distress in patients and assist with treatment programmes. As a practitioner psychologist, it is vital to consider how technology can assist, affect our thoughts about, interactions with, and treatment of clients. This is especially true while we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic as we may be using technology to assess how our clients feel, while they will also be using technology to keep connected with loved ones separated involuntarily.

When it comes to using technology associated with AI, such as online chatbots providing automated advice from health professionals, or collecting data to help psychologists assess how humans feel or behave, some are cautious, arguing that such technology is too invasive. Others argue that this form of data collection is needed because it helps us understand ourselves. In Big Brain Revolution, Dr Michelle Tempest outlines these arguments using real-world examples of how AI technology can even help us ‘read the mind’. For example, she discusses bespoke computer games (AI gaming interventions) that allow researchers to monitor subsequent brainwave activity to assist the understanding of and interventions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In today’s society technology and data used by AI technology can provide ever more ways to help people understand the world we live and work in. Tempest assesses a wide range of possible societal implications of adopting this technology in the future – from parents being provided knowledge about their children’s emotional wellbeing (before the child even knows it) to perhaps using information to make genetic changes in us humans.

Tempest says that now is the time to be curious about big data collected through the AI technology. We should question what it can do to help us progress through the information age while our data is being mined in different ways – from games we play to our social media profiles. But most importantly, Tempest says the technology we employ is about people. This book can help psychologists in their goal to help humans explore, understand themselves and enable everlasting change.

- Reviewed by Dr Joshua Bourne, Counselling Psychologist

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