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The New Engineers, Architects, and Developers

by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.

Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness


As a child, I remember engineers using slide rules to solve equations—then, my dad embraced a Texas Instruments SR-50 (1974). Architects created designs on drafting tables—then personal computers. Developers built communities like the iconic Levittown—then skyscrapers. Today's engineers, architects, and developers are not confined to these traditional roles. They're creating our future with artificial intelligence (AI).

I'm partial to the virtually unlimited potential of AI-Integrated Emotional Wellness (AIEW)the intersection of the cognitive capabilities of computers and human emotion. AIEW focuses on how machines can foster emotional wellness.

I see our future rapidly moving beyond computers "thinking like people" to understanding and responding to people's feelings. This is no easy feat. As I learned from conducting presentations on Emotional Wellness, attendees struggled to define a feeling. Imagine how a computer would do this.

Emotional wellness is a crucial and often overlooked aspect of overall well-being. Through their unique blend of knowledge, skill, experience, training, and education, expert consultants in emotional wellness play a pivotal role in bringing AIEW to the forefront of the technological world.  

Imagine if AI could learn to detect feelings of anxiety in real time and provide an immediate suggestion to empower you to cope more effectively. For instance, suggesting, "Close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath through your nose. Hold it for five seconds, then slowly exhale through your mouth while repeating the word 'relax' to yourself."

Likewise, consider a scenario where AI can detect feelings of depression and propose a coping strategy. For instance, instructing you to "Take a moment to identify what you're thinking about. Now, redirect your thoughts towards something more constructive—such as, 'I've got this.'"

While AI will never replace mental health professionals, AIEW can contribute to developing technology, such as chatbots and virtual therapists, that can serve as powerful adjuncts to traditional mental health care.

Moreover, AIEW holds immense potential beyond mental health—imagine its impact on customer service, human resources, employee assistance programs, education, and healthcare. Understanding and responding to human emotions can significantly enhance the user experience and outcomes in these fields.

The roles of engineers, architects, and developers have evolved over the years. Today, they are working collaboratively to harness the power of AI to leverage the cognitive capabilities of computers to think like people.

Let me save the best for last: AIEW offers specific strategies for AI engineers, architects, and developers to create machines that emulate mental health care.


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