The robot named Clara will assess risk factors, suggest what actions people should take, and provide information on how to safely manage it at home.
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This story originally appeared on PCMag
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created a chatbot with which Americans will be able to talk about possible coronavirus symptoms they experience and to find out whether or not they should seek medical help.
Called “Clara,” the chatbot was built on Microsoft's “Healthcare Bot” and powered by the tech giant's Azure cloud architecture. Clara will assess symptoms and risk factors for people who are concerned about becoming infected; It will suggest what steps they should take and provide information on how to safely handle them at home, Microsoft explained in a blog post .
Why does the CDC need a chatbot? Microsoft says that using artificial intelligence in this way helps “[free] doctors, nurses, administrators and other health professionals” so they can provide more critical care to those who do need it. It will also quickly differentiate between people with high-risk factors who will need access to medical resources and those who will not, which will help prevent health systems from being overwhelmed.
Although the chatbot can provide links to more information, as well as how to contact local health departments, it does not have information about the sites to test for coronavirus, nor can it actually diagnose it.
In a statement to Techcrunch , Microsoft said the chatbot was already responding to more than a million messages per day from people concerned about COVID-19, and that it expects the number to grow. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal , the company said the service is already operational in nine health systems worldwide and that it will enter another 20 soon.
This is not the only action that Microsoft is taking to combat the coronavirus. The company launched a coronavirus tracker using its Bing search engine and is working with other tech giants like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube to combat misinformation about the coronavirus on its platforms.