AI-driven bot 'Sophie' answers coronavirus-related questions

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UneeQ, which uses artificial intelligence to create “digital humans” with which people can have live chats, has created one for coronavirus-related questions. Her name is Sophie.

UneeQ’s COVID-19 health advisor is free to use and is designed with people with limited health care or low health literacy in mind, which could make the tool useful to firms serving certain nonprofits. Its goal is to prevent the spread of misinformation. However, the tool still has limited sophistication, and it is unclear whether the AI will learn and improve with more use.

Sophie is a female-coded “intelligent” computer program that can field and answer questions about coronavirus in real time. She takes the form of an animated woman on your computer screen, and people can ask questions vocally, or type them out. She can answer basic questions, like, “Is there a vaccine available?” or, “Where can I get tested?” but has trouble answering questions about symptoms, like, “What are the symptoms of coronavirus?” or “Should I be worried about my sore throat?”


According to the Center for Health Care Strategies, a national, nonprofit health policy resource center serving low-income Americans, roughly 90 million Americans have low health literacy, including the elderly population that is most vulnerable to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sophie is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer general questions and concerns about the COVID-19 global epidemic in several languages including English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch. She can listen to people’s questions and respond with answers and guidance naturally, through human-like conversation. After receiving a query, she scans databases from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and presents the information in conversational form to the user.

The COVID-19 health advisor can be accessed here.

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