AMAZON'S ALEXA voice assistant can now tell you if you're going to die, horribly.
Well, ok that might be a bit extreme, but from Wednesday, Brits will be able to ask Alexa for medical advice based on the symptom checker and other data from the NHS website.
UK gov says that the scheme, in conjunction with other initiatives such as a standardised app for making appointments and ordering repeat prescriptions, could take the pressure off the NHS.
Alexa was already capable of giving some advice, but it was collated from a variety of sources. The implementation of the NHS option will give some added credibility for those who don't believe it till they hear it from the National ‘Elf.
Health Minister Matt 'download my app' Hancock said that the scheme would help "our hard-working GPs and pharmacists" who are feeling the pressure of increased demand.
It's part of a bigger initiative, NHSX, a department specifically set up to explore how tech could be used in the NHS. The potential for everything from a joined-up record system to AI analysis of scans is being explored as the government pushes for digital transformation in the creaking-at-the-seams health provider.
There has been some criticism of the scheme, with questions raised about privacy, but Amazon has made it clear that all information you get from the service will be kept confidential and won't be collecting the data for its own use. As ever, with these things, it's a question of trust as to whether that makes you comfortable using the service.
Google's DeepMind subsidiary was criticised after privacy concerns were raised about the amount of data being shared with Google during a trial of AI-based monitoring for kidney patients.
It's understood that Google Assistant, Siri and Cortana are all being looked at as possible extensions to the program. μ
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