The Download: using AI to access mental health services, and the natural gas debate


The news: An AI chatbot helped increase the number of patients referred for mental-health services through England’s National Health Service (NHS), particularly among underrepresented groups who are less likely to seek help, new research has found.

What happened: The new study from the AI company Limbic, examined data from 129,400 people visiting websites to refer themselves to 28 mental health services across England, half of which used the chatbot on their website and half of which did not. The number of referrals from services using the Limbic chatbot rose by 15% during the study’s three-month time period, compared with a 6% rise in referrals for the services that weren’t using it. Read the full story.

—Rhiannon Williams

We are having the wrong debate about Biden’s decision on liquefied natural gas

—Arvind P. Ravikumar is a research associate professor in the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Late last month, the Biden administration announced it’s suspending permit applications for exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) as it reevaluates the economic, environmental, and climate impacts of the fuel.

LNG is produced by cooling natural gas into a liquid state, making it easier to store and ship to overseas markets. Natural gas itself has been a core but controversial part of the clean-energy debate for decades. When burned, it emits about half as much greenhouse gas as coal. But it’s mostly made of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Methane leaks along the supply chain, threatening to erode the benefits natural gas offers as a cleaner-burning fuel. 

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