President Trump has been briefed on a proposal to develop a way to identify early signs of changes in people with mental illness that could lead to violent behavior. The proposal is part of a larger initiative to establish a new agency called the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA), modeled on DARPA, the highly successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which would be part of the Health and Human Services Department.
Supporters of HARPA see the plan as a way the president could address mass murder involving guns following recent tragedies as efforts seem to be flagging to impose harsher restrictions such as background checks on gun purchases.
The president has said he thinks mentally ill people are primarily responsible for the spate of mass shootings in the United States. And this proposal is likely to be welcomed by Republicans and gun-rights activists who have argued the same thing. “We’re looking at the whole gun situation,” Trump said last week. “I do want people to remember the words ‘mental illness.’ These people are mentally ill. . . . I think we have to start building institutions again because, you know, if you look at the ’60s and ’70s, so many of these institutions were closed.”
The idea is for the agency to develop a “sensor suite” using advanced artificial intelligence to try to identify changes in mental status that could make an individual more prone to violent behavior. The research would ultimately be opened to the public.
HARPA would develop “breakthrough technologies with high specificity and sensitivity for early diagnosis of neuropsychiatric violence,” says a copy of the proposal. “A multi-modality solution, along with real-time data analytics, is needed to achieve such an accurate diagnosis.” The document goes on to list a number of widely used technologies it suggests could be employed to help collect data, including Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo and Google Home.
MacDailyNews Take: This is an interesting idea that certainly warrants further study, at least. Apple’s ResearchKit framework is already producing medical insights and discoveries at a pace and scale never seen before. Apple Watches have already been used or are currently in use for mass research studies for Parkinson’s disease, autism, melanoma, epilepsy, postpartum depression, sleep disorders, concussions, heart health, and more.
MacDailyNews Note: Thoughtful commentary on this issue is welcomed below. Please keep the discussion civil and on-topic. Off-topic posts and ad hominem attacks will be deleted and those who post such comments will be moderated/blocked. Permanent loss of screen name could also result.