Links for 2018-7-7

The rise of ‘pseudo-AI’: how tech firms quietly use humans to do bots’ work [Olivia Solon | The Guardian]

In some cases, humans are used to train the AI system and improve its accuracy. A company called Scale offers a bank of human workers to provide training data for self-driving cars and other AI-powered systems. “Scalers” will, for example, look at camera or sensor feeds and label cars, pedestrians and cyclists in the frame. With enough of this human calibration, the AI will learn to recognise these objects itself.

In other cases, companies fake it until they make it, telling investors and users they have developed a scalable AI technology while secretly relying on human intelligence.

Want to feel happier? Your phone can help. (Maybe.) [Claire Coghlan | The New York Times]

In 2015, Poppy Jamie was hosting Snapchat’s first talk show, “Pillow Talk With Poppy,” when she began to think there was a particular malaise plaguing millennials. So she began incubating a new “brain health” app called Happy Not Perfect. …

Ms. Jamie, a graduate of the London School of Economics, has spent the past three years working with experts in the fields of psychotherapy, mindfulness and neuroscience in order to better understand the brain, and develop an app — the medium of the moment — that would distill that learning down to a daily five-minute mental workout.

Article includes brief coverage of four apps

How elastic is your brain? [Lisa Feldman Barrett | The New York Times]

Feldman Barrett brings her neuroscience expertise to reviews of three recent books about the brain:

Feldman Barrett finds herself less than impressed with the writers’ grasp of the latest science:

“Elastic,” like the previous two books reviewed here, illustrates how difficult it is for science writers to keep up with the pace of discovery outside of their areas of expertise.

From apps to avatars, new tools for taking control of your mental health [Amy Ellis Nutt | The Washington Post]

Mental-health care is no longer limited to psychiatric drugs and face-to-face counseling. Half of all U.S. counties have no psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker, and that lack of access, plus cost, has put traditional treatment beyond the reach of many. The breach is now being filled with “digiceuticals,” part of a new field of mental-health technology that includes smartphone chatbots that text self-help advice for those dealing with depression as well as virtual-reality-exposure therapy for individuals battling anxiety disorders….

Some critics call this technology scene a kind of “Wild West.” Of the more than 165,000 health-related apps worldwide, 30,000 are dedicated to mental health, according to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. But few have been rigorously tested, and a lack of regulatory oversight has prompted concerns about “whether these apps have sufficient safeguards, and what are the indications for who should be using them and in what way,” said Nicole Martinez-Martin, a bioethicist and research fellow at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics.

Among other digital mental health offerings, covers 18percent, a Slack community for those “living with any mental health issue no matter how small or large.”