QH W7 HW: Final Project Proposal Outline

Digital phenotyping + self-care/intervention

  • Background research/ project landscape:
    • Mindstrong: This is basically what I came to ITP to do: develop a tracking system that can detect/predict/prevent the onset of depression, although Mindstrong is aiming to tackle many mental illnesses with only smartphone data, whereas I am primarily gathering data from laptop use. Co-founded by Dr. Tom Insel, formerly the lead of Verily’s mental health team.
    • PRIME app: an app developed by UCSF researchers for clinical trials studying the effect of social support on the severity on schizophrenia
    • Fine: An mood reporter app that tracks self-reported data (not available for use)
    • trackyourhappiness.org: an ongoing doctoral research project by Matt Killingsworth at Harvard, which prompts you throughout the day to find out what factors are associated with happiness.
    • PHQ-9: standard self-reported questionnaire for depression severity
    • Exist: links all your tracking apps to find correlations
    • I feel like shit game: an interactive self-care flow chart; asks you questions about your state and offers self-care suggestions
    • Headspace: there’s a meditative exercise tailored for nearly every mood possible
  • Hypothesis / Definition of question(s):
    • What factors in my life contribute to stress, anxiety, low morale/motivation, and negative affect in general?
    • What factors contribute to high morale, motivation, positive affect, and a more balanced feeling of well-being?
    • How might I facilitate the latter factors?
    • What interventions are appropriate?
  • Objectives:
    1. a system that tracks:
    2. a dashboard for data viz
    3. machine-learned correlations (ultimately)
    4. self-care recommendations
  • Goals:
    • To address issues with current treatments:
      • Therapy:
        • lag time (“A therapist, the joke goes, knows in great detail how a patient is doing every Thursday at 3 o’clock.”)
        • No performance feedback outside of potentially dishonest self-reporting
        • patient fear of disappointing therapist
        • variations in individual therapist efficacy
      • Medication:
    • To catalyze self-awareness of emotions and their triggers
    • To facilitate self-care
    • To encourage healthier digital habits
  • Technical considerations/next steps:
    • Finish trackers:
      • tab/window counter: chrome extension
      • new affectiva approach: chrome extension background page?
      • unreturned messages
      • self-reported mood
    • Research visualizations
    • Research more behavioral metrics


3 thoughts on “QH W7 HW: Final Project Proposal Outline

  1. Feedback:

    – whoa! A big project, but you seem to be on your way. As you’re developing your heuristics (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heuristic) for the markers of depression, make sure to mindful of the gaps that quantified measures often have + to make them explicitly known in your assumptions.
    – your proposal reminds me of a few things:
    Teachable Machines: https://teachablemachine.withgoogle.com/ ⇒ what if we all had a machine that we could train to understand our own happiness, sadness, depression, and so on? Does having a personal technology or at least being empowered to create your own ML algorithm help or hurt us?
    Similar to the AI in the Spike Jones movie, Her, or Raising Robotic Natives (https://philippschmitt.com/projects/robotic-natives) – what happens when there is the ability to teach or grow up with your technology in ways that they can better understand your own markers for depression or happiness? What does that system look like? How does your proposal comment on that?
    – What does it look like to have your robot or devices or AI start to intervene when those markers start to arise?
    – Those are bunch of more speculative questions…
    – Do you plan to develop a library or a workflow that can be forked and used by others? As we discussed before, there’s a difference between developing a software that is tailor-made for you vs those that address the symptoms and feelings that are show or felt by others, especially those in a different generation. I’d be curious to see how interviews with other people might challenge or reaffirm your ideas about the ways that you feel or develop depression.

    Looking forward to seeing developments on this end!

  2. Very nice backup research into alt apps and interesting concept. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to attend your demo or talk through, but this sounds cool. I think. I wonder how online therapy bots might fit into your plans: Woebot (https://woebot.io/) + Wysa (https://www.wysa.io/) + Eliza (https://www.cyberpsych.org/eliza/); is there a significant gap they fill in this space, or is it actually more depressing to chat with an AI about depression (http://www.businessinsider.com/therapy-chatbot-depression-app-what-its-like-woebot-2018-1). It would also be interesting to learn more about why you intend to use x or y technology to solve this, and how you think that tech particularly addresses issues not yet addressed by these other tools. That could be a rabbithole of research and I totally understand that you might not have time for all of this, but I think it might be cool to add these to an FAQ on your project (wherever you host) explaining your thought process in even more detail. Great work!

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