Baidu To Launch Medical Chatbot

Baidu has announced plans to launch a chatbot designed to assist users in diagnosing illnesses as early as possible. The bot, named Melody, will be available on the iOS and Android versions of the company's Baidu Doctor App. Users will give the bot symptoms, and answer relevant questions in order to receive a diagnosis. However, the app has courted controversy from some quarters, where questions have been raised on how the app will be regulated, and what happens to patients' medical data. Andrew Ng, chief scientist at Baidu, said that it is hoped that the technology won't grow to usurp doctors, but will act as encouragement for more healthcare. Ng added that “there is always this debate when you build technology”, but hoped that it would expand medical employment, as the invention of the car did for taxi drivers. The announcement comes not long after Baidu has been hit with a string of medical controversies regarding the quality of treatments advertised on its search results pages.