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WHO recruits first digital human to fight Covid-19 disinformation


During the pandemic disinformation has been rife and endangered lives. So now digital humans, who can scale and engage with people, are being called in to fight it.


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New Zealand based Soul Machines, the developer of life like digital human assistants like Will, who is now teaching children in New Zealand about renewable energy, or Ava who is running customer service for Daimler and also selling mortgages for UK bank Natwest, have announced that their digital humans have yet another new job helping the World Health Organization to fight COVID-19 and smoking.


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A digital human Artificial Intelligence (AI) called “Florence” will assist WHO’s “access initiative” for quitting tobacco and to share life-saving information during the COVID-19 pandemic and combat disinformation. And you can try her for yourself here.


See Florence in action


Florence, who is the WHO’s first digital health worker, was created using Soul Machines Digital DNA platform and WHO technical guidance with support from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud.

Florence will help provide clarity and expel damaging myths around COVID-19, and to address smoking and its consequences – heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and respiratory diseases – all of which are co-morbidities with COVID-19.


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Although around 60 per cent of the 1.3 billion tobacco users globally want to quit, only 30 per cent of them have access to tools that can help them quit, and so now smokers can engage Florence to develop a quit plan and access a trusted source anytime and from any place to help them quit.

Initially available in English WHO say Florence will, over time, be available in all six official UN languages, and “her” ability to scale and talk to potentially millions of individuals all at once in a personal way, thanks to her neural network brain, rather than with pre-configured answers or questions like conventional “dumb” bots, will also help free up critical people resources at the organisation.


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“We are pleased to partner with the WHO to help reimagine the massive challenge of how to scale health communication in a high-trust way as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise globally,” said Soul Machines co-founder and chief business officer Greg Cross.

“We congratulate the WHO on leading the world in the application of AI in public health. Bold innovation is required to help close the gap in access to health care.”

Source: WHO

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