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Bill Gates-Funded AI Chatbots Promoted COVID Vaccines
You may have encountered them on social networks
A Nature article published two days ago might make you go hmmmmm:
To increase lagging vaccination rates, scientists developed specialized AI actors to talk to people online to convince them to get vaccinated.
This was done in response to all-important but unmentioned “stakeholders” demanding that chatbots be deployed to improve vaccine acceptance among the refusers:
Employing the RE-AIM framework, process evaluation indicated strong acceptance and implementation support for vaccine chatbots from stakeholders, with high levels of sustainability and scalability.
Who are these stakeholders? The word sustainability was a dead giveaway, so I looked up the usual suspect. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is behind this idea and spent $6,183,326 on such “hybrid advising vaccine chatbots”:
While being active on Twitter, I noticed that from time to time, posts from Twitter users were strangely similar, as if AI generated them:
(sorry for the small font size - this is a large image - open in a separate window to enlarge it if you want to read the text)
Are those persons real people? Who knows. They might be. It is challenging to investigate specific instances. Still, I often felt that vaccine promoters' activities were not entirely organic, and some felt like automated operations.
AI Chatbots Were Rigorously Evaluated - And Found Lacking!
The Nature study I brought up was an attempt to evaluate whether these chatbots were effective. The results were mixed! These AI systems were not effective when dealing with educated people and often decreased vaccination intentions, as the Nature article explains:
Chatbots were found to be significantly more effective at improving vaccine confidence and acceptance among people who are minorities (i.e., non-Thai in Thailand and non-Chinese in Hong Kong and Singapore) and those who had lower education levels (i.e., below college level).
Talking to these chatbots was turning educated people away from vaccines:
Likewise, in the Hong Kong senior group, respondents with a college or above education level showed lower odds of experiencing improved perceptions of vaccine importance [OR = 0.31 (0.18–0.55)], safety [OR = 0.18 (0.11–0.29)], and effectiveness [OR = 0.41 (0.26–0.67)] (Fig. 5 and Supplementary Table 10).
They also did not work against vaccine skeptics:
Respondents with higher risk perceptions were less likely to improve in their vaccine confidence and acceptance compared to those with lower risk perceptions (Figs. 2–6 and Supplementary Tables 9–11), meaning that perceived risks might have been the reason for their hesitation but chatbot use was not enough to sway their opinions or reduce their concerns about the vaccine.
More Vaccine Chatbots Planned!
The authors of the article, suckling on the teat of AI chatbot funding, clearly are not giving up on future development and have ideas to use them for other vaccination campaigns:
The Thai Ministry of Health brought ChatSure to the public specifically to combat COVID-19 vaccine-related misinformation; the D24H chatbot is currently being expanded to cover other vaccines, such as the HPV vaccine, so it may serve as a scalable intervention for existing vaccination campaigns to enhance online engagement with the goal of increasing vaccine confidence.
Similar chatbots are deployed to promote climate change:
Have you ever met pro-vaccine online users that sounded like automated bots? Did they convince you? If your answer is “yes and no,” congratulations on remaining an independent and critical thinker!