Applications have got the ability to monitor many things in our lives and the world but one type of app is aiming to do something a little more unique.
That idea seems to be based on monitoring digital tracers, which people leave whenever they do something, such as watch videos, search, and talk. This means that a piece of software could simply look for signs of the psychological state of an individual.
Dr. Thomas Insel, the former head of the National Institute of Mental Health actually said that there could be as many as one thousand, smartphone "biomarkers" for depression. According to NBC News, some preliminary studies have found that typing speed, word choice and even how often a child stays home from school might be a red flag. Some apps are apparently using artificial intelligence, but are being tested in an experimental mode at the moment.
Some applications are already being tested on young people who have attempted suicide. This is precisely the case with Nick Allen, a University of Oregon psychologist who is one of the creators of that specific app. However, do not expect to see this type of tool topping the charts on the app store just yet. It's not going to take decades, but some developers state that a proven and commercially available tool that can detect moods is years down the road.
Now, despite the potential of this type of software, it does have a few issues on the ethics side of things as well as the overall problem of making someone install a specific app for that one purpose. The first hill that needs to be crossed is privacy, especially when it comes to tracking one's mental state.
On top of that, one main issue is that these are all very specific apps. You see, many people can't be bothered with installing an extra app. What this means is that, if a piece of software like this was to see the greatest amount of success, it might find itself embedded into an operating system of a device rather than created in the form of an app.
Overall, Depression and other mental issues are a huge problem and according to the Canadian government, it is the " second leading cause of death among young Canadians, accounting for almost one-quarter of all deaths at ages 15 to 24."