Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

Amazon Alexa will now be giving out health advice to UK citizens

An Amazon Echo with tablets and a temperature probe beside it
An Amazon Echo with tablets and a temperature probe beside itAssociated Press

The UK’s National Health Service hopes that its partnership with Amazon could help to reduce demand on its services.

The news: From this week, when UK users ask their Amazon smart speaker health-related questions, it will automatically search the official NHS website, which is full of medically backed health tips and advice. For example, you will be able to ask your Echo device, “What are the symptoms of flu?” Until now, it would answer these sorts of questions based on a variety of popular responses.

The aim: The government believes it will ease the burden on over-stretched doctors and hospitals, but also help elderly, disabled, or blind patients who may struggle to access this information otherwise, according to the UK health secretary Matt Hancock. The UK already has a deal with Babylon, an AI app that provides basic answers to queries about symptoms.

The worries: There are concerns that the voice service might discourage genuinely ill people from seeking proper medical help. The service will only provide answers to questions rather than the sort of back-and-forth conversation you would have with a doctor.

The professional body for family doctors, the Royal College of GPs, called for independent research to be carried out to ensure that the advice given is safe. It being Amazon, there are also concerns over data privacy, especially in an area as sensitive as health. However, the company insists that all data is encrypted and confidential, and can be deleted by customers.

Sign up here to our daily newsletter The Download to get your dose of the latest must-read news from the world of emerging tech.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

DeepMind’s cofounder: Generative AI is just a phase. What’s next is interactive AI.

“This is a profound moment in the history of technology,” says Mustafa Suleyman.

Deepfakes of Chinese influencers are livestreaming 24/7

With just a few minutes of sample video and $1,000, brands never have to stop selling their products.

AI hype is built on high test scores. Those tests are flawed.

With hopes and fears about the technology running wild, it's time to agree on what it can and can't do.

You need to talk to your kid about AI. Here are 6 things you should say.

As children start back at school this week, it’s not just ChatGPT you need to be thinking about.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.