While this approach has some merits, it also does feel like ‘Big Brother’ even if it is consent based. A variant that would make me more comfortable is for devices to signal to the user first any change in behaviour, rather than automatically sending it on to family members or medical teams, to allow for the distinction made below:
One of the leading research centers in the field has been the M.I.T. Media Lab, where Alex Pentland, a professor of human dynamics, oversees the entrepreneurship program. He says the idea of collecting patient movements and communications could give doctors more accurate evidence of behavior than relying on patients’ memory or efforts to describe their problems.
“Humans are not just bad at it, they’re terrible at it, and they’re biased in so many ways,” he said of patient self-assessment. The data from the phones “is a true God’s-eye view of what we’re doing.”
But Dr. Pentland added that the data must also be refined and understood so that, when someone appears to be withdrawing, the information is not misleading. “Maybe the guy is going to kill himself, or maybe he’s going to write the classic American novel,” he said.