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Why Apple is Looking for Engineers with Psychology Backgrounds

Is virtual assistant as therapist becoming the new normal?

For many iPhone owners, Siri acts as a mildly-accurate meteorologist, a hands-free version of Google and even a personal assistant. But according to a recent job posting on Apple’s website, Siri has also become a quasi-therapist and health coach for some users.

The job description, which gained attention thanks to a tweet by CNBC reporter Christina Farr, says that the tech giant is looking to hire someone who can help make improvements to Siri so she can better assist users. “People have serious conversations with Siri. People talk to Siri about all kinds of things, including when they’re having a stressful day or have something serious on their mind. They turn to Siri in emergencies or when they want guidance on living a healthier life,” according to the job posting. (The role is listed as Siri Software Engineer, Health and Wellness.)

In a piece for Quartz, writer Ephrat Livni notes that the job has been open since April, suggesting that the tech company may be struggling to fill the role, as not many people are masters of both code and counseling. “The position requires a unique skill set,” Livni writes. “Basically, the company is looking for a computer scientist who knows algorithms and can write complex code, but also understands human interaction, has compassion, and communicates ably, preferably in more than one language.” The posting itself lists “peer counseling or psychology background” as additional requirements for the role.

While the fact that people are turning to Siri to find answers for big questions isn’t exactly shocking based on how dependent we are on our devices , it does raise an interesting question about where emotional intelligence and artificial intelligence meet. Regardless of what you use her for, remember that while Siri can be helpful for certain questions and tasks, if you’re dealing with physical or mental health concerns, there are offline resources that can help.

Read the full article here.

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