Silicon Valley wants to deploy AI nursebots to handle your care

The medical startup Hippocratic AI and Nvidia have announced plans to deploy voice-based “AI healthcare agents.” In demonstration videos provided Monday, at-home patients are depicted conversing with animated human avatar chatbots on tablet and smartphone screens. Examples include a post-op appendectomy screening, as well as a chatbot instructing someone on how to inject penicillin. Hippocratic’s web page suggests providers could soon simply purchase its nursebots for less than $9/hour to handle such tasks, instead of paying an actual registered nurse $90/hour, Hippocratic claims. (The average pay for a registered nurse in the US is $38.74/hour, according to a 2022 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ occupational employment statistics survey.)

A patient’s trust in AI apparently is all about a program’s “seamless, personalized, and conversational” tone, said Munjal Shah, Hippocratic AI co-founder and CEO, in the company’s March 18 statement. Based on their internal research, people’s ability to “emotionally connect” with an AI healthcare agent reportedly increases “by 5-10% or more” for every half-second of conversational speed improvement, dubbed Hippocratic’s “empathy inference” engine. But quickly simulating all that worthwhile humanity requires a lot of computing power—hence Hippocratic’s investment in countless Nvidia H100 Tensor Core GPUs.

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