Alexa and AI programs will be able to detect dementia soon, experts claim

Gadgets such as Amazon’s Alexa will soon be able to detect health issues such as dementia.

Experts believe the Amazon devices and AI programs could spot problems by hearing a person speak a single sentence.

Language expert Felix Agbavor said: “ChatGPT’s approach to language analysis makes it a promising candidate for identifying the subtle speech characteristics that may predict the onset of dementia.”

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Researchers at Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA, found that by after allowing ChatGPT to analyse speech recordings from 237 people who are either healthy or developing Alzheimer's, the system was able to detect signature clues in speech that can predict with around 80% if the person speaking was in the early stages of dementia.

The news comes after the European Space Agency [ESA] said its speech analysis program could detect depression and scientists are working on another AI system to discover Parkinson’s disease.

In March, Dr Gábor Kiss, a computer engineer at Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary, showed how an advanced speech-analysis system could detect the early signs of depression: "The speech of depressed patients usually becomes more monotonous and quieter. They pause more often. We teach these characteristics to the software."

He said this technology could be invaluable for looking after the mental health of astronauts on long missions. A journey to Mars could take as long as seven months, and there’s no way of telling exactly what effect the unprecedented stress would have on the astronauts.

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Meanwhile Rytis Maskeliunas, a professor of informatics at the Kaunas University of Technology in Lithuania, explained how medics could soon have a smartphone app that provided early detection of Parkinson’s Disease.

He said: “Research shows that a large percentage of people with Parkinson's have speech disorders, such as soft, monotone, breathy and hoarse voices, as well as uncertain articulation.

“This may be difficult for people to hear in the early stages of the disease, but it is what our approach looks for."

A US company, Cordio Medical, is developing similar technology that could be able to detect the first stages of heart disease.

The technology is still in its infancy, but as natural language models continue to evolve, ChatGPT could soon come to replace your GP’s receptionist and provide valuable insights to the doctor.


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