Eye on the XPrize: Project aifred proposes a machine learning approach to mental health treatment

Montreal (May 15, 2017) — It is an absolute honour to announce that Project aifred has been one of the 147 teams selected to advance in the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, a four-year competition involving teams from 22 countries across the globe. The contest challenges participating teams to build innovative projects using artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to create solutions for significant problems in the world which remain unaddressed. The first round of the competition required the submission of a thorough proposal detailing the development of the AI project, and the next round will take place in September 2017 in the form of a report on the progress and achievements of the team.

Ultimately, the three finalists in the competition will unleash their ground-breaking ventures on the hallowed TED2020 stage, with a massive $3 million Grand Prize for the champion and accompanying prizes for runner-ups.

The $3 million question: What’s aifred?

To answer that inquisitive query, consider for a moment that according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. That’s one in five people; a friend, family member, perhaps you. Now consider one of the biggest barriers facing mental health patients: finding an effective treatment. Physicians treating mental illness have limited tools at their disposal to help predict a patient’s unique response to medication or other treatments, and finding the proper procedure for treating a mental illness can be an emotionally harrowing and financially draining process. This is where aifred will shine.

Project aifred aims to offer a data-driven resource to aid in the medical evaluation of depression patients in order to optimize treatment approaches. Aifred proposes an innovative role for artificial neural networks in mental health treatment as a resource for medical professionals with concise output predictions for treatment plans based off of data from current psychiatric research and historic records.

The sentiments of the aifred team are summed up succinctly by Team Leader, Abhishek Gupta: “In a world where everything is tailored to you right down to targeted social media ads for that TV you’ve been thinking of buying, let’s apply a data-driven, algorithmic approach to something that actually matters — our mental health.”

In short, artificial neural networks are the referral that works. The aifred team is beyond thrilled to have this opportunity to create a tool for medical professionals to improve the lives of people living with mental illness, and to propel the field of mental healthcare into the world of AI, where neural networks can help neural networks.