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PTSD-Monitoring App Captured the Psychological Effects of the Boston Bombing

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the protecting-the-mind dept.

Software 68

the_newsbeagle writes "This DARPA-funded smartphone app is designed to monitor veterans for signs of depression and PTSD. It screens for signals of psychological distress in a number of ways; for example, the app looks for signs of social isolation (reduced number of phone calls and texts), physical isolation (the phone isn't leaving the house), and sleep disruption (the phone is used in the middle of the night). Interestingly, the company that invented the app was testing it in Boston at the time of the Boston marathon bombing, and reports that the app picked up signals of distress in the days after the attack."

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Water is wet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690223)

and other obvious news at 11

Re:Water is wet (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#44690391)

and other obvious news at 11

Even more than you might think... this thing was discovering that people were spending more time indoors immediately after they were told to stay indoors if possible, and around the time people's emergency radios were going off in the middle of the night (sleep disruption).

The one curious bit is the decrease in phone calls and texts -- that indicates some actual positive stress correlation, as I would have expected the opposite to be true as people started coping with the event.

Re:Water is wet (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#44694095)

Obviously, the gov't must immediately buy the "global enterprise" version, which will cover evaluating all citizens earning more than double the poverty-line.

I'm just waiting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690271)

for what the tinfoil hat crowd has to say about this

Re:I'm just waiting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690335)

Obvious: The company that developed this app instigated the attacks as a test case for the app.

Re:I'm just waiting (2)

BreakBad (2955249) | about a year ago | (#44690819)

Great, just great. Now we need an app to track company patterns that may indicate possible attacks.

Re:I'm just waiting (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690609)

I saw your cock on a gay dating site the other day. I masturbated to it while stroking my mothers dick. It was HOT!

Ill mail you a ziplock Baggie of cum in the mail.

A bit late. (1)

BitterOak (537666) | about a year ago | (#44690293)

was testing it in Boston at the time of the Boston marathon bombing, and reports that the app picked up signals of distress in the days after the attack."

Would have been a bit more useful if it had picked up the stress in the days before the attack!

Re:A bit late. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44690515)

Doesn't count, still useful for detecting bombing events!

Re:A bit late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691983)

The P stands for Post.

is it called fear tracker? (3, Interesting)

maliqua (1316471) | about a year ago | (#44690299)

or compliance meter? Pacification gauge?

Re:is it called fear tracker? (1)

jamiesan (715069) | about a year ago | (#44690365)

Happiness meter. Happiness is mandatory.

Re:is it called fear tracker? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690657)

Try "Whistleblower Detector"

Not sure what's more depressing (-1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about a year ago | (#44690341)

suffering from PTSD or knowing your phone is being watched 24/7 by anonymous bozos at the phone company, so that anonymous researchers may know your state of mind in real-time without you knowing. What a sad world...

Re:Not sure what's more depressing (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690421)

It's not the phone company it's a company that is working on making issues less stressful and problem resolution more effective through data analysis that people may not knowingly perceive. Really interesting stuff actually.

Re:Not sure what's more depressing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690429)

Even better, TFA indicated that the big clue that people were affected was people leaving less interactive data for analysis. Not feeding into their BS is a sign that you are sick apparently.

Re:Not sure what's more depressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690579)

Yeah, they noticed a change in activity.

Goes along the lines of "If you don't want to be noticed, act normal."

Re:Not sure what's more depressing (4, Informative)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44690941)

"It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself – anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called."

-- George Orwell, 1984

Re:Not sure what's more depressing (5, Informative)

Nanoda (591299) | about a year ago | (#44690465)

This was a standard clinical study with 100 fully-aware participants trying to improve PTSD diagnosis to help the incidents of suicide and psychological issues in returning vets. You've got plenty of other things to gripe about with PATRIOT / PRISM / etc., but for crying out loud this isn't one of them.

Re:Not sure what's more depressing (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#44691585)

Eh, people automatically assume the worst and then spout off about it, "we're doomed, we suck," etc. It's the result of a university education that emphasizes the negative. Students are literally never taught that America has done anything good.

Re:Not sure what's more depressing (1)

RoTNCoRE (744518) | about a year ago | (#44698583)

I don't think "literally" means what you think it does...

Re:Not sure what's more depressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44693299)

Actually, this is one of them. Sorry. You are dead wrong.

It sits right along side all those other things you mentioned. Shoulder to shoulder.

Re:Not sure what's more depressing (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690477)

I'd say the more depressing is that I see 4 posts by numbered Slashdotters and not one even read the first sentence of the summary.
Here it is again:

This DARPA-funded smartphone app is designed to monitor veterans for signs of depression and PTSD.

Smartphone app, as in, it has to be installed on the phone and records behavior to send off to some user approved (even if by obscure yes/no choice) observer to look for suspicious behavior trends.

There were volunteers, they were in Boston, and the marathon got bombed during the testing phase. A significant portion of the volunteers showed the warning behaviors in the days afterward. This is all in the summary, but I suppose actually reading the whole summary and devising an informed post would take too long. Of course, one of the signs "not leaving the house" was probably due to the not-quite-martial-law that was not-exactly-imposed on the city of Boston for those days.

Re:Not sure what's more depressing (2)

Chemisor (97276) | about a year ago | (#44690611)

Smartphone app, as in, it has to be installed on the phone and records behavior to send off to some user approved (even if by obscure yes/no choice) observer to look for suspicious behavior trends.

The app looks at phone usage and location patterns. These tasks can very easily be accomplished by the phone company reading your call and location log. In most places this data is available to law enforcement without a warrant. So while this particular study was made with consent of its participants, it is quite possible that this is being done to each and every one of us without our knowledge or consent. Implement a few "red-flag" conditions and you've got yourself a pre-crime detector.

Re:Not sure what's more depressing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690651)

You could always just troll them and put leave your phone at home attached to a paint mixer that shakes the phone at random intervals between 8pm and 8am but that otherwise just lets the phone sit there doing nothing while plugged in. That would mess with there data, while you go use a disposable pay as you go phone.

Yes sir, right away sir. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690347)

I for one welcome my software sicologist.

OMG (0)

Behrooz Amoozad (2831361) | about a year ago | (#44690353)

They actually killed people to test an app.
Couldn't they just call out for beta testers?

Suspicious coincidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690359)

I wouldn't put it past the government to be the catalyst to initiate a stressful event for the sake of military testing. It wouldn't be the first time. http://www.policymic.com/articles/16852/the-federal-reserve-bomb-plot-why-the-fbi-helped-a-terrorist-try-to-blow-up-the-fed [policymic.com]

After all, do YOU know anyone that "willingly" opted in to download this app? I wonder if it's already built into some phones... http://cryptome.org/2013/08/assange-google-nsa.htm [cryptome.org]

really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690393)

So the plan is to install this app on everyone's phone looking for the "black swan" event which triggers "PTSD" in a non-war environment?

Am I alone in wondering why this is released now (months later)?

phone hasn't left the house (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690397)

One reason why the phone hasn't left the house in the Boston metro area was that the police locked down most of the city for a few days. Subway trains and buses weren't running. Logan international airport was open though.

interesting article

That's not suspicious at all! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690407)

That is all.

mod dNowN (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690419)

seem a bit silly to me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690431)

... the app looks for signs of social isolation (reduced number of phone calls and texts), physical isolation (the phone isn't leaving the house), and sleep disruption (the phone is used in the middle of the night).

wouldn't this cover a lot of basement dwellers here on slashdot?

So if I forget my phone... (0)

Taelron (1046946) | about a year ago | (#44690447)

So if I forget my phone at home before heading out for the weekend are they going to think I have PTSD or depressed and then come to my home and take away any guns I own? How Orwellian...

Re:So if I forget my phone... (4, Interesting)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#44690837)

Christ almighty, I know we like to not RTFA and gripe about the govt and everything, but this was used in a study with willing participants. No one is using this to track you. Chill the fuck out.

Re:So if I forget my phone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44694737)

No but the possibility of the next step is there and very real.

Re:So if I forget my phone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44695441)

Ah yes, /.'s favorite logical fallacy: the slippery slope. If we can imagine a way for something to be abused, it will be abused.

Here's one for you: The state of Wyoming has a majority of the nuclear weapons held by the United States. If someone were to misuse that kind of power, they could not only cause a nuclear holocaust, but they could blow up Yellowstone, sending us all back to the stone age.

Re:So if I forget my phone... (1)

DFurno2003 (739807) | about a year ago | (#44696269)

No, that is not the case whatsoever. You completely fabricated that out of your own mind. Nothing of value or truth in your statements.

jungle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690455)

in a hut in the jungle lived a nigger, this was not one of those neat, cheerful beech huts you see at the sea side, nor was it an efficient workshop hut, where a skilled workman makes a living. this was a stinking, shit-covered nigger's hut,

Re:jungle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691039)

tell me more!

Normals? (1)

jamesl (106902) | about a year ago | (#44690463)

I'm sure that the company had a number of normals -- people living someplace other than Boston (Singapore? London? Moscow?) -- to compare to their Boston subjects.

Actually, I'm not very sure about that.

So, I have PTSD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690543)

because I don't make a lot of phone calls/texts (preferring to use email on my laptop), I'm physically isolated (because I work from my home and am a home-body any way), and I experience sleep disruption (because I work all hours of the day).

I KNEW IT!

Those are also signs of having a baby. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690551)

Don't have time for phone calls. Don't get out much. Up all night.

Re:Those are also signs of having a baby. (1)

Ant2 (252143) | about a year ago | (#44690673)

+1 true, sad, and funny

Re:Those are also signs of having a baby. (2)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#44691055)

I think having a child and having PTSD kind of goes together.

Re: Those are also signs of having a baby. (1)

ExFCER (1001188) | about a year ago | (#44694143)

I was going to comment on the "Orwell was right." posts but your post is... Insightful even Brilliant. I remember those days/nights *whoosh* its been twenty some years. Thanks. Really. I think I'll txt my daughter.

geek detection guaranteed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690627)

If I have to code I work most effectively between 11pm and 3am. I used to tex and call all day and all over night till I married. When I divorced my call rate fell to 5 per month. I chat if I have to talk to anybody. Going out once a month to drink with beer buddies. When I work on something I may forget about eating for a day or tow and going out well. If I get to coding which is rare these days I tend to do it best between 10pm and 3am when none of the sorry excuses for an engineer that I have to work with disturbs me much. I guess some intelligence would help to tune it even to deviants like me but I tend to change routine drastically from time to time. I guess the monitoring agency would go crazy after few such changes of routine. Besides what is the point of this if NSA knows it all anyway?

NSA and phone records (1)

Ant2 (252143) | about a year ago | (#44690653)

Maybe that is why the NSA is so intent on collecting the CDR (call detail records) data from Verizon, and others. Maybe it is really the meta data about the calls that they are after as a way to profile potential terrorists?

Still don't like it, but at least this would be a logical thing for them to do.

yes. the answer to all my problems. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690655)

i am sure that every veteran is a phone toting teenager.

A city of inactivity (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44690663)

The problem with this measurement is that it's only to be expected for there to be less activity at the time. When you take into account the heavy militarized police/military/occupational force that flooded into Boston, you have to expect that social communications and outings will decrease significantly.

Re:A city of inactivity (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#44690691)

The problem with this measurement is that it's only to be expected for there to be less activity at the time. When you take into account the heavy militarized police/military/occupational force that flooded into Boston, you have to expect that social communications and outings will decrease significantly.

That and the effect of an illegal martial law being imposed and having troops in the streets pointing rifles at homeowners would have on former military suffering from PTSD.

Re:A city of inactivity (5, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44690739)

Indeed. Personally, I found the bombing to be less disturbing than the reaction to the bombing, and even more, the reports of how many Bostonians found the actions acceptable.

causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690697)

didn't leave the house during a lock-down, was up all night glued to CNN.

mmm hmm

Get over it (1)

isorox (205688) | about a year ago | (#44690795)

Dozens of schools are shot up wry year in the u.s., death on the roads is in the thousands, and you're all running scared of a couple of twats that could have killed an order of magnitude more people by buying a rifle and shooting up a mall or cinema.

Re:Get over it (1)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about a year ago | (#44693005)

Dozens of schools are shot up wry year in the u.s.

Citation needed; AFAIK, that actually only happens once every decade or so, it's not the norm by any measure.

Re:Get over it (1)

isorox (205688) | about a year ago | (#44745593)

Dozens of schools are shot up wry [every] year in the u.s.

Citation needed; AFAIK, that actually only happens once every decade or so, it's not the norm by any measure.

Wikipedia lists 14 school shootings so far this year.

In the last 12 months, 7 incidents where people died:

September 26, 2012 Stillwater, Oklahoma (suicide)
December 14, 2012 Newtown, Connecticut (major news incident, highest number of deaths since 2007)
January 15, 2013 Hazard, Kentucky (college parking lot)
January 16, 2013 Chicago, Illinois (university parking lot)
January 29, 2013 Midland City, Alabama (ok, a school bus, not a school)
March 18, 2013 Orlando, Florida (university, killer was ready but changed his mind, suicide)
June 7, 2013 Santa Monica, California (college)

Even if you just limit it to "major" events with 5+ homicides

Red Lake massacre, 2005
Amish school shooting, 2006
Virginia Tech massacre, 2007
Northern Illinois University shooting, 2008
Oikos University shooting, 2012
Newtown, 2012
Santa Monica shooting, 2013

7 in the last 8 years.

what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44690991)

what? a smart phone app to reach this conclusion? fucking clones

Laugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691475)

I saw a guy in the military laugh when he saw the explosion video...basically it wasn't a big deal to him.

Um... duh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691887)

Um... wasn't there a citywide lockdown where they told everyone to stay in their houses? Wouldn't that trigger this app? Doesn't seem like anything surprising.

Slashvertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44692013)

Why is this story not tagged as a slashvertisement? There is a link to the company, and many comments have pointed out that the town was on lockdown triggering the simple things this app supposedly monitors.

What an amazing coincidence .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44692307)

Yet another amazing coincidence that the "bombers" had connections with the spooks and there was a "training" excercise on the day. Without one of these terror scares at least every quarter we might wonder why we even need the Stazi to "protect" us.

Bombing was staged [youtube.com]

Staged Boston Marathon Bombing Drill! [youtube.com]

Bombing Makeup Artist [youtube.com]

Re:What an amazing coincidence .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44697163)

Yeah.

So you plan an exercise, and then some splinter faction decides to put a real bomb into the scene. It's the perfect cover for a real operation because all the measures designed to prevent such an attack are switched off to make room for the exercise. The Homeland Security mish mash of overlapping service people resulted in a complete gaggle in the command structure. Nobody knew who anybody else was or what their operating parameters were, so a black hat could operate in the light of day without raising alarms.

Another desirable result is that of confusion all around which makes the water so muddy after the fact that nobody knows what actually happened. Was it staged? Was it real? There's evidence for both, and since people have trouble thinking outside of binary scenarios, the result is endless, fruitless argument which makes conspiracy researchers look completely nuts. Contribute to that disinfo agents and people who really are nuts, and the mud gets muddier still.

This sort of confusion contributes to the same anxiety which makes people want to turn off their thinking circuits and run to the strong authority figures who will tell them a comforting binary official story and do their decision making for them. -Which is the end goal.

The other weird elements in the bombing involve how the brothers were managed. There are endless, blatant inconsistencies in the narrative. And that one boy speaking in a thick Russian accent during his trial speaks of mind control of some manner, which is also to be expected, but by that point nobody is paying any attention.

The whole thing was spooked out on many levels.

But PTSD after the bombing? That's hardly a surprise. I wonder how that crazy city-wide lock down and those warrantless house to house searches might have contributed to people feeling a bit stressed..?

Only Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44692509)

could make post traumatic stress a "Disorder"

I'd have thought not being stressed after a trauma would be more alarming, but even that wouldn't necessarily be a fucking disorder...

No actual app? (1)

Quixotic Raindrop (443129) | about a year ago | (#44692799)

All the articles I found, linked from here or at second-level links, talked about "an app" or "the app" but never named, or linked to, any app. Maybe I'm missing something, but was this app only available for a short period of time, and now is no longer available?

I can't wait for the fringe stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44693391)

I'm just really hoping that they are able to perfect parking for cars automatically. I'd really like to be able to get out of my car at a friends house where there is no parking and have the car park itself in the nearest spot a few blocks away. Then when it's time to leave summon the car and have it pick me up at the front door. I just can't wait until people start 'drunk driving' and waking up in front of their ex's house or Las Vegas.

This could be fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44697875)

for example, the app looks for signs of social isolation (reduced number of phone calls and texts), physical isolation (the phone isn't leaving the house), and sleep disruption (the phone is used in the middle of the night)

So how many stereotypes can we diagnose with PTSD who have never experienced TS in their life? :D It's a good thing DARPA continues to want to apply 1 rule to the entirety of everything. Wouldn't want to use the right tool for the job, that might actually save money!

PTSD (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#44698549)

PTDS is such a cute and round-edged name intended to gloss over the harsh fact of shell-shock to the rest of society. "Hey, Johnny came back from life under nearly constant artillery strikes and having to see the most horrifying things for four years, but he just has PTSD which is super common and not a big deal".

We used to call that shit shellshock. It was a strong word with striking connotations, for a reason.

What if (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705459)

What if someone prefers to meet others in person, leaves the phone at home and has a night job?

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