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Teen Girl Builds An AI ChatBot That Gives Her Positive Affirmations & Helps Her With Mental Health

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young black woman typing on computer

A mom is "in awe" of her 14-year-old daughter after she used her burgeoning interest in technology to create something truly game-changing that just might one day help the world at large.

Her teen daughter built an AI chatbot that helps with mental health. 

We hear so many negative stories about AI nowadays, from the way it can make "fake news" indistinguishable from the truth to how it can completely strip us of our privacy. Many people talk about it as if it's the end of the world. 

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But TikToker Samantha's 14-year-old daughter Sophie is demonstrating the extraordinary good that AI can do when created by the right hands — as well as the importance of diversifying the tech industry.

"She walked into my office recently and she said, 'Mom, I've been working on something and I wanna show it to you,'" Samantha said in a recent TikTok.

What she saw on her daughter's computer screen left her pleasantly "shocked" and "reinfused [her] with some much-needed joy and hope."

Her daughter's AI chatbot offers positive affirmations and insights that help with negative self-talk and other mental health issues.

"This is your positive affirmations app," Sophie's creation can be heard saying in the video. "Humans often struggle on focusing on the present ... and comparing each other to other people who we think are better, when really we should focus on ourselves and think about how great we are." A much-needed reminder we could all use, right?

   

   

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From there, her chatbot gave three options — exercises in getting to know yourself, more positive affirmations, or insight about setting boundaries.

Samantha said Sophie's creation is the culmination — surely only the first of many — of an interest in tech that began when she was just six. "She told me she wanted to build autonomous vehicles," she said, and that led her to seek out opportunities that would help Sophie pursue her curiosities in the field.

Her interests led her to Black Girls Code, which teaches Black girls about STEM, and then to a program at Amazon.

"Through diligent research, I found Black Girls Code," Samantha went on to say, which she described as "a low to no cost resource and community in which she could learn and be exposed to new technologies."

There, her daughter got to learn about robotics, software engineering, and other new technologies. She got to create things with her father as well, who became a software engineer himself in 2020.

   

   

That led her to an Amazon program called Ahead, or the Amazon Hardware Embedded AI Design program, a sort of incubator program for students interested in tech that allows them to learn and experiment with technologies. Ahead is where Sophie was able to work with the technology that led to create her AI chatbot.

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Samantha held up her daughter's creation as an example as to why we must invest in women and girls who are underrepresented in tech.

The technology industry is overwhelmingly white and male. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 83% of executives are white men, and just 20% of Silicon Valley leadership is female. 

Black people, and Black women especially, are even more disproportionately underrepresented. Just 8.35% of employees in tech are Black, and just 25% of students enrolled in STEM-field degree programs are Black or Latino.

This, of course, does not reflect the actual demographics of our communities, and it has led to mishaps with tech itself, from the infamous "racist" automatic soap dispensers of a few years ago that only recognized white hands, to far worse issues like AI-based HR and hiring software that discriminates against minorities.

   

   

In the caption of her TikTok, Samantha wrote that she hopes Sophie's brilliance and the AI chatbot she created to help her with "negative self-talk" will stand as a reminder of the importance of "investing" in girls and those in marginalized communities.

"Giving our girl the space to explore and grow has blessed me and her entire community with her creativity," she wrote. With her and Sophie discussing a potential launch of her AI chatbot to the public one day, that blessing just might extend to the entire world soon, too.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.