Our new column on AI in psychiatry explores the future of mental health care.
Welcome to “Chatbot Corner,” a new column in Psychiatric Times® in which we will explore the intersection of psychiatry and cutting-edge technology. I am Steven Hyler, your guide on this exciting journey. My fascination with technology, especially its integration into the field of psychiatry, has been a constant thread throughout my career.
In the early days of my psychiatry residency, I was drawn to work with Ian Alger, MD, a pioneer in incorporating video feedback in patient and group therapies. This was a time when video technology was cumbersome, involving reel-to-reel and 1-inch U-Matic videotapes, and equipment that was far from portable. Despite these challenges, the potential of technology in enhancing patient care was unmistakable.
As we leaped into the 1980s, I embraced the Apple Mac computer, one of the first to offer a graphical user interface. This innovation marked a significant shift from complex, command-based computing to a more user-friendly approach—a change that greatly influenced consumer computing.
The 1990s brought the internet into the mainstream, with its email communication, user-friendly browsers, and sophisticated search capabilities. I was captivated by the potential of this new digital world, especially in the context of medical and psychiatric practices.
By the late 1990s, the advent of video conferencing technology opened new horizons for me in telepsychiatry. I coordinated consultations across New York State, connecting the New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University host site with various state psychiatric centers, community mental health centers, and mental health units in maximum-security prisons.
The emergence of big data in recent years, highlighted by IBM Watson’s triumph over Jeopardy champions, sparked my imagination about the possibilities of applying such technology to medicine and psychiatry. And now, with the advent of ChatGPT in early 2023, I find myself diving headfirst into the world of chatbots.
The idea for “Chatbot Corner” has been brewing in my mind for months. I am thrilled that Psychiatric Times has embraced my vision and offered me the opportunity to serve as the column’s editor. Join me as we explore the fascinating and evolving world of chatbots in psychiatry, where technology meets the human mind.
Join the Conversation!
This innovative space is dedicated to exploring the dynamic and sometimes challenging relationship between artificial intelligence (AI) technology and mental health. We are calling on our insightful readers to contribute to this cutting-edge dialogue. Whether it is sharing the most egregious chatbot errors you have encountered in practice or your experience with trying to stump the psychiatry chatbot with complex scenarios, your contributions are vital.
We welcome columns, commentaries, letters, and articles that delve into the ethical, practical, and clinical implications of AI in psychiatry. Be a part of shaping the future of mental health care in the age of AI. Your expertise and experiences can help demystify the role of AI in our field and guide its responsible use. Submit your ideas and articles, and let’s embark on this intriguing journey together!
Submit your abstracts and articles about AI in psychiatry and other digital therapeutics for “Chatbot Corner” by writing to us at PTEditor@MMHGroup.com.
Dr Hyler is professor emeritus of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.