As a double-edged sword, technology and innovation have always led to casualties on the sidelines. What can we do about this imbalance?

With the continuing advancement of technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, human beings have been under pressure to adapt to the impact. Job requirements have changed, educational foci have had to be tweaked, and career prospects are now predicated on data skills.

Those who have met with incessant challenges despite their best efforts, may have encountered mental stress. Over a longer period of time, mental health will have become a concern.

Globally, one in every six individuals is estimated to live with mental illness, and this is one of the main contributors to overall disease burden and disability worldwide. That is why the Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research (GFCyber) recently established a Special Interest Group (CyPSYCH) to focus on ‘cyber psychology’ and ‘cyber space mental wellness’.

Recently the foundation recently published a white paper on CyberSpace Mental Health Stigma detailing how the mental health of an average worker may be affected by AI, cybercrimes, deep fake technology, and the dark web.

AI as in mental Ailments?

Even as robotic process automation has been used to carry out dangerous tasks like defusing bombs, the technology has even infiltrated the workplace. AI technology has been infusing momentous changes into businesses. The changes are so big that around 70% of companies are predicted to have adopted at least one AI technology by 2030, delivering some US$13tn worth of global economic activity by 2030.

AI technology combined with music is making its presence felt in health and business sectors. As entrepreneurs continue to lap up AI to reduce labor and computing costs, workers not coping well with the shift may be sidelined or subjected to mental health ailments like social anxiety and depression.

  • Another topic addressed by the CyPSYCH white paper is cybercrime. This can comprise malware, ransomware, distributed denial of services (DDOS) attacks, and an ever-growing list of cyber depravities. Imagine the mental distress of a worker who has fallen victim to any of these attacks: the shame, the career and legal implications; the investigations …
  • Next comes cyberbullying—another phenomenon that greatly affects mental health among parents and children alike. Among the Asian countries, China has the highest number of bullying incidents at 70%, with Singapore next at 58% and India third at 53%.
  • Deep Fake technology is next on the list. The potential uses of voice cloning or video fakery are immense. Imagine taking a sample recording of the way you speak, and having the computer generate any spoken words in a voice that sounds like your own. Imagine hearing the voice of your boss on the phone telling you to withdraw US$250K urgently, only to find out later that it had been an AI-generated deepfake voice used by a scammer.

Finally, there is the Dark Web — the place where malicious actors sell personal information of people who are not even aware that their identities are already being sold. Last March in the Philippines, 3.3m users of the online money lending platform Cashalo had their personal information leaked into the Dark Web.

Calls for action

With mental health being globally jeopardized by bad actors, what does the GFCyber hope to improve?

The white paper was a start: it has presented a call for action that includes strong leadership, regulatory vigilance over AI ethics, and prudent data governance.

Their experts have also suggested a decentralized- internet that would permit the average person to secure his or her identity, and be assured that all data is tamper-proof.

The paper even mentioned that attempts had been made to utilize a single entity provider, but it gave too much power to that entity leading to fraud and data theft. How ironic.

The fourth industrial revolution is gaining momentum, but so is the risk to mental health illnesses. This publication and will be on the prowl for trending issues on this critical theme to help readers keep pace with ways to tap technology and also “leave no one behind” in the pursuit of progress.