Accenture uses Google AI to combat loneliness in aging population

Andrea Park - Print  | 

Artificial intelligence is now being used to tackle senior citizens' acute loneliness, which has been shown to accelerate other mental health issues, through a new joint initiative from Accenture and Swedish energy supplier Stockholm Exergi.

Participants in the Memory Lane project tell their life stories to a Google Voice Assistant-enabled smart speaker equipped with AI software that can actively follow a story and ask relevant, personal questions to continue and deepen the conversation over multiple days. Once complete, the discussion is immediately converted into a podcast and physical book.

The project has so far launched only in Stockholm, where a recent county council report found that more than 250,000 residents experience acute loneliness; Sweden has been labeled "one of the loneliest countries in the world." The aging population is especially susceptible to loneliness, which has been linked to the rapid onset of depression and early stage dementia.

"When people experience little to no social interaction over extended periods of time, it can cause a sharp decline in their mental and physical health," Adam Kerj, Nordics chief creative officer at Accenture Interactive, said in a statement. "In the two years we spent developing the software and the concept of the platform, we observed the urge to share stories by lonely participants was incredibly strong. To this end, we not only wanted to develop something that could hold a human-like conversation with them, but also capture those memories so they didn't end up untold."

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