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AI conversations against dementia

One third of all people develop dementia – and apparently nothing can be done about it. However, early detection and prevention can delay dementia-causing diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. For this purpose, the Viennese start-up HILDA relies on an artificial personality of the same name. A conversation about the new possibilities that artificial intelligence offers, the great importance of music and the digitalization of the healthcare industry.

by Tobias Imbach

Year after year, there are more dementia patients, but, and this is a reason for hope: Research shows that dementia can be significantly delayed. Motivated by this and based on the findings of five international scientific studies, the team around Thomas Marek developed an artificial intelligence called HILDA. Through daily interaction with the digital interlocutor, it aims to prevent a disease that can lead to dementia (such as Alzheimer's). In the latest podcast episode, Thomas Marek talks about what's possible with artificial intelligence, speech and pattern recognition, how important our parents' favourite songs might once become, and what hurdles need to be overcome if artificial intelligence & co are really to bring change to healthcare.



  • We need to be prepared to talk to a human being for one, two, three decades, asking them new questions every day. The artificial intelligence listens, assigns topics and creates questions.
  • These conversations are for early detection of dementia, of forgetfulness. HILDA doesn't ask a question twice, but she connects and builds questions based on what is said.
  • When we combine text, photos and music, we achieve an unprecedented emotional impact.
  • Music is the form of communication that appeals to the most areas of the brain; however, only if you let it.
  • The recognition of speech melody and pauses is still at a very early stage, here we had to do a lot of homework.
  • The advice "Please go to the doctor" is preceded by an extremely complex calculation, with artificial intelligence and pattern recognition.
  • Nothing will revolutionise our future as much as artificial intelligence.
  • AI will bring many improvements – but rarely on its own. Medicines need to be taken at an early stage for them to work – this is where AI comes in as it helps with early detection.
  • In an environment where people want to help people and work with people, IT is not necessarily seen as a friend and helper. We will only be able to overcome this prejudice if we work together.

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Thomas Marek

Hilda GmbH, Wien

A case of dementia among friends led the Austrian IT and digitalisation expert Thomas Marek and three friends to look for a digital solution that could delay the disease. The disappointing finding was that there were almost no digital tools to prevent dementia. So, together with his friends, Thomas Marek decided to fill this gap in the health sector. He now runs the start-up Hilda GmbH.


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