Blog #1 Social Workers and Technology or Technology for Social Workers?
I was listening to a pod cast (this is an amazing website – heaps of great podcasts to listen to) the other day about social work, robots and technology and was very interested in the presenter’s comments. He stated that when the telephone was first invented, social workers were quick to start using it, but now social workers often appear reluctant to use technology. This has also been my observation. I am concerned that social workers are being left behind in the development and the use of various technologies that could enhance our work. I hear social workers saying that social work is about building relationships – but actually it is more than that. It is about making sure that every citizen has the tools, capability and connections to build relationships – and if we think about it like that, maybe technology has more to offer?
There’s a New Zealand firm who are doing internationally recognised work in the development of AI (Artificial Intelligence). AI is going to happen. It will happen even if we dig our toes in, bury our heads in the sand and keep saying social work is all about relationships. If we don’t get in at the beginning, the first AI to be used in the social service sector will be based on the thoughts and thinking of the minds that the developers have access to – engineers, software developers, information systems developers, and then possibly psychologists – because that’s who most people think of when they start thinking about how people think. It would be great if those first AIs have some social work input – so not only do they think like people, but they also relate like people and can interact more realistically. If the early AIs used in public consumption are effective, and informed by social work, we will see AIs developing that are more connected to all the issues that face social workers.
In this podcast Meredith Whittaker and Kate Crawford give more reasons why we need to be involved. It’s an hour long, but there’s also a transcript.
I have watched a number of videos about the use of AI in counselling and social interactions. This video is quite old now (by AI standards) and I’d be keen to see what’s happening now.
There’s also quite a bit of research coming out now which indicates that clients actually reveal more if they think they are talking to a non-person: Tess (scroll down to “Computers that care”) and Ellie are both examples. Here is more information about the organisation developing Tess.
For social workers who are supporting people to stay independent for longer, Amazon Alexa can now provide help and advice.
What do you think?
What do you define as “technology”? How do you use it?
What concerns you about technology? Why don’t you use it? What would encourage you to make more use of it?
Why are social workers “late up-takers”?
What technology would you like to see developing? What would you like to develop?
If you think you are an early up-taker, why is that? What attracted you to using technology?
Have a go at it!!