Eating Disorder Helpline Fires Staff, Transitions to Chatbot After Unionization

I recently read an article about an eating disorder helpline that has decided to transition away from its human staff and towards a chatbot. This is extremely concerning to me. Eating disorders are already highly misunderstood and stigmatized, and chatbots are simply not equipped to provide the kind of emotional support and understanding that a real person can. This decision also speaks to a larger problem in our society, where human labor is considered expendable and replaced with automation. An eating disorder helpline is a particularly inappropriate place to make such a change, as it is a service that requires a human touch. We must fight against decisions like this and continue to prioritize the value of human labor.

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It is deeply concerning that an organization providing a critical service for those with eating disorders is transitioning away from its human staff to a chatbot. Eating disorder sufferers often need compassionate and understanding emotional support, which cannot be supplied by a chatbot no matter how sophisticated it is. It also speaks to the systemic disregard of human labor, where automation is chosen over people in the pursuit of economy. Automating the helpline could be taking away from many people’s livelihoods as well.

I support any kind of collective action to resist decisions like this and remind decision-makers that human labor holds immeasurable value not just in economic terms, but in social terms too.