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Accepted Paper:

Computerised automation of mental health treatment displaces rather than replaces the clinical practitioner, what are the implications for treatment?  
Eoin Fullam (Birkbeck, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

Automation often appears simply to transfer labour from humans to machines, but automation involves a rearrangement of social conditions. This paper looks at how the clinical practitioner’s role becomes blurred with that of technician when working on automated mental health software.

Paper long abstract:

What happens to the clinical practitioner, and to treatment, when mental health treatment is automated using computer software? It may appear that the practitioner is no longer required due to the technology assuming their role. The practitioner is not quite eliminated however; mental health apps which automate treatment displaces rather than replaces the clinical practitioner, whose role becomes that of technical operator.

This achieves ‘operational autonomy,’ and allows the operator, through the mediation of the software, to act upon individual subjects or groups as they appear as incorporations of various manipulable abstractions - datasets. Treatment software can be reconfigured according to the responses given by users through patient outcome forms in order to improve treatment, this ‘adjustment of means to ends’ gives the operator a sense that the outcome can be reached through manipulation of the software itself. Treatment becomes a technical action of adjustment.

What becomes of the patient then, when the treatment expertise of the clinician is remoulded into that of technical operator? This paper will end with a discussion about how mental health, when treated as a technical system, becomes, on one hand, under the control of the individual being treated, and on the other hand, removed from their subjective experience.

Panel P17a
Addressing the Humans behind AI and Robotics
  Session 1 Monday 6 June, 2022, -