Tom Insel is “The Smartphone Psychiatrist” at Mindstrong Health | The Atlantic

Tom Insel is “The Smartphone Psychiatrist” promoting his employer ‘Mindstrong’;
David Dobbs; In The Atlantic; 2017-07.

tl;dr → a promotion of Mindstrong Health, announcing $14M in funding today
tl;dr → a hagiogaphy of Dr. Thomas Insel, its public face.


Mindstrong Health Raises $14 Million in Series-A Funding; press release; 2017-06-15.
Teaser: Founding team includes the former Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Tom Insel, and former Director of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Richard Klausner

Tom Insel
  • Mindstrong, startup, Palo Alto, CA
  • Product Manager (Director?), Verily (the ‘V’ in the Alphabet pantheon as Google’s “health” hobby).
  • (ex-)National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
  • other institutions in the article.
Mindstrong Health

At the bottom


  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
  • Verily of Google
    Mountain View, CA
  • Tom Insel
    • one of four brothers
    • curriculum vitae in the article
    • Pleasanton, CA
  • H. Herbert Insel
    • father of Tom Insel
    • an eye surgeon
    • Dayton, OH
  • clomipramine
  • OCD
  • prairie-vole
  • Insel, Wang, and Young
  • biology vs environment, teach the controversy (nature vs nurture)
  • Thomas Insel; Towards a New Understanding of Mental Illness; TED Talk, 2013.


<quote>The force they hope to harness is the power of daily behavior, trackable through smartphone use, to reflect one’s mental health. As people start to slide into depression, for instance, they may do several of the following things easily sensed by a phone’s microphones, accelerometers, GPS units, and keyboards: They may talk with fewer people; and when they talk, they may speak more slowly, say less, and use clumsier sentences and a smaller vocabulary. They may return fewer calls, texts, emails, Twitter direct messages, and Facebook messages. They may pick up the phone more slowly, if they pick up at all, and they may spend more time at home and go fewer places. They may sleep differently. Someone slipping toward a psychotic state might show similar signs, as well as particular changes in syntax, speech rhythm, and movement.</quote>


<quote>Psychiatry has always struggled to be taken seriously as a science. By the 1980s, the field seemed especially lost. Its best drugs were from the 1950s and ’60s. Most of its hospitals, their failings made infamous by works such as Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, had been closed. Talk therapy, which often works, but by psychobiological pathways painfully difficult to discern, was frequently lampooned. For these and other reasons, including its penchant for savage infighting, psychiatry in the ’70s was “a collection of diverse cults rather than a medical science,” as Melvin Sabshin, a onetime medical director of the American Psychiatric Association, later put it. </quote>

<quote>A therapist, the joke goes, knows in great detail how a patient is doing every Thursday at 3 o’clock.>/quote>



the two components necessary to any approach to mental-health care—assessment

  1. collection and analysis of “data”
    • self-attested by the patient
    • logged by the phone
  2. intervention
    • informal social
    • medical support, inpatient
    • medical support, outpatient

prime, an app

  • prime → (Personalized Real-time Intervention for Motivation Enhancement
  • Danielle Schlosser
    • a clinical psychologist
    • recruited to Verily from the psychiatry department at UC San Francisco by Thomas Insel
    • developed prime. a monitoring app, for an outpatient’s phone
  • Concept
    Social proof to the cohort that they are all “normal” people who are able to “function.”
  • Applicable
    • people ages 14 to 30
    • recently diagnosed with schizophrenia
  • Feature-Function

    1. modeled on Facebook
      i.e. a circle of ‘friends’
    2. connecting people so they can turn to one another for help, perspective, and affirmation.
    3. reading material → set of motivational essays, talks, and interactive modules
      [which] guide with decisions and review dilemmas common among the membership.
    4. monitoring & alerting → spotting emerging crises and responding with peer, social-service, and clinician support.


Mindstrong Health

  • co-founders
    • Richard Klausner
    • Paul Dagum
    • Michael Friberg
  • Palo Alto
  • something about 2017-05, probably the date of the interview for the article
  • Roles
    • Insel → expertise and connections in the mental-health field
    • Klausner → business
    • Dagum → data-analysis


<quote ref=”presser>Based in Palo Alto, California, Mindstrong’s patented science and technology was developed by Dr. Dagum, and is based on four years of extensive clinical studies applying machine intelligence to human-computer interactions patterns. Mindstrong products are in clinical trials in numerous partnership projects with payers, providers, academics and the pharmaceutical industry to bring these new tools to bear on answering the most fundamental questions in behavioral health. Its Board of Directors includes Richard Klausner, MD, Jim Tananbaum, MD, Robert Epstein, MD, Thomas Insel, MD, and Paul Dagum, MD PhD.</quote>


  • Mindstrong does assessment.
  • Mindstrong does “learning-based mental-health care.”
  • Mindstrong does continuous assessment and feedback [which] would drive the interventions.
  • Mindstrong does measurement-based practices [would be for] all therapies

<quote>Smartphones can track daily behaviors that reflect mental health. A phone can sense the beginning of a crisis and trigger an appropriate treatment response. This idea has been floating around Silicon Valley and mental-health circles for several years. Insel estimates that a good five or 10 other companies or research teams—including Verily—are trying to do something similar. Mindstrong hopes to gain an edge by combining Insel’s expertise and connections in the mental-health field with Klausner’s business experience and Dagum’s data-analysis tools and skills—and by moving quickly.</quote>


  • 2018 & 2019 → testing phone-based data-collection-and-analysis systems,
  • 2019 & 2020 → explore ways to partner with others to provide intervention.

Intellectual Property

three patents for a data-collection-and-analysis system for such purposes.
Paul Dagum designed this system [is a named inventor?]


  • Mindstrong will collect information
  • Mindstrong will use an opt-in
  • Mindstrong will use encryption
    <quote>all data will be strongly encrypted</quote>
  • Mindstrong will use HIPPA<quote>All data will be firewalled according to strict patient-privacy practices.</quote>
  • Mindstrong will only store metadata
    • not
      • voice
      • typed
    • e.g.
      • semantic structures
      • repeated use of key words or phrases
      • estimated
      • emotional state
      • cognitive states,

        • depression,
        • mania,
        • psychosis,
        • cognitive confusion.


Verily (Google)

  • Andy Conrad, CEO
  • <quote>a 500-person company (Verily>part of a 74,000-person company (Alphabet)
  • South San Francisco

7 Cups

  • Has an app.
  • Another private venture.
  • Glen Moriarty, CEO
  • Insels daughter NAME is an employee.
  • Demographic
    • young
    • diverse
    • 90% are under the age of 35
    • “likely to go underserved by traditional mental-health care.”
  • Applies DASS‑21Anonymizes the results.

<quote>7 Cups provides text-based peer counseling and support for people with depression or anxiety or a long list of other conditions. Registering for the simpler services, such as peer connection, takes only seconds, and users can also get referrals to either coaches or licensed mental-health counselors and psychologists.</quote>


DASS-21 → Depression Anxiety Stress Scales

DASS, University of New South Wales, AU

There is a manual


Sundar Pichai of Google Talks About Phone Intrusion | NYT

Sundar Pichai of Google Talks About Phone Intrusion; Conor Dougherty; In The New York Times (NYT); 2015-07-12.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of products, Google


  • Something about “it’s early days.”
  • Something about “it’s like TV”
    wherein the lumpenproletariat types spend 6 hours a day watching TV; same with smartphones.
  • Something about telemarketing spam via PSTN voice: “technology” cannot yet distinguish between friends & family (wanted calls) and telemarketers (unwanted calls).
  • Definition of user centric: centered upon the user [consumer].
  • Something about how it isn’t possible to go “off the record” without special affordances built into the system.  Whereas computers are infinite surveillance & recording devices; he doesn’t frame it as the perjorative.
  • Something about interruptions; notifications that cannot be quieted.
  • Something about how products need to have restraint, which is undefined.
  • It isn’t possible to order people to sequester their phones during a corporate dinner on corporate time.  Story about corporate pressists and industry bloggists needing constant contact; especially right before the [Google I/O] trade show.
  • Crooning about good design.


Brand Names

  • Android Wear
  • Android Auto
  • Google Now
  • Google Priority Inbox
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Chrome
  • Google Search

Interview with the inventor of Adblock Henrik Aasted Sørensen | Business Insider

The inventor of Adblock tells us he wrote the code as a ‘procrastination project’ at university — and he’s never made money from it; ; In Business Insider; 2015-07-14.


  • Henrik Aasted Sørensen, writer of Adblock
    • 2002
    • Copenhagen
    • Claims he never made any money off of Adblock
  • Wladimir Palant, rewriter of Adblock Plus


The Adblock vs Adblock Plus split, there was drama there.


Also mentioned as participating in the genre

  • Eyeo
  • PageFair
  • Google, has bought out Eyeo to participate in Acceptable Ads

Moxie Marlinspike: The Coder Who Encrypted Your Texts | WSJ

Moxie Marlinspike: The Coder Who Encrypted Your Texts; Danny Yadron; In The Wall Street Journal (WSJ); 2015-07-09.
Teaser: Dreadlocked programmer has spooked the FBI by creating a tool that police can’t crack


  • TextSecure, SMS replacement
  • Signal, voice
  • WhatsApp adopts TextSecure, 2015-early
  • ex-BEA Systems
  • Open Whisper Systems



for color, background & verisimilitude

  • Phil Zimmermann, doesn’t use PGP any more; it doesn’t work on a Mac.
  • Tim Cook
  • Jame Comey, Director, FBI
  • Ian Schuler, Open Technology Fund, Radio Free Asia, State Department


  • <quote>In an 2011 online interview with the website Slashdot, however, he wrote, “the name my parents put on my birth certificate is ‘Matthew.’ ” </quote>
  • Matthew Rosenfeld, Moxie Marlinspike referenced.
  • Matthew Rosenfeld, Mike Benham; referenced; In Jimi Wales Wiki

Eric Brewer, Google, explains why containers are the future of computing | Medium

Google systems guru explains why containers are the future of computing; ; In Medium; 2015-05-15.




Redemption: How A Coupon Processor Became The Most Powerful Player In Marketing | MediaPost

Redemption: How A Coupon Processor, Became The Most Powerful Player In Marketing; ; In MediaPost; 2015-05-10.

tl;dr => discursive; a hagiography of John Ross & Inmar.

not proven => “most powerful player in marketing”


  • Inmar
  • Not shown
    • No revenue numbers shown.
    • No halo deals shown.
    • No forward-looking statements.
  • John Ross, <quote> the No. 2 executive</quote>, press relations(?), Inmar.
    • ex-CMO, Home Depot
    • ex-Interpublic
      • the “failed media lab”
      • Shopper Sciences
        • Something about the black art of neuroscience
        • Cameras on shoppers.
        • Face recognition, biometrics, sentiment recognition
    • Joins Inmar (exits Interpublic) 2012-Q3.
  • L. David Mounts, CEO, Chairman, Inmar.
    • ex-UPS, supply-chain logistics management
    • ex-Domino’s Pizza
      the “pizza tracker” app.
    • Joins Inmar, 2010-Q2.
  • Jim Deffenbaugh,
    • ex-Equifax, analytics
  • Score, a trade name of Inmar
    • a consumer propensity score
    • a universe of coupon users
  • Scale:
    “approaching the 100 million mark of lives under management” attributed to John Ross.
  • Inmar uses transaction data
    <quote>The transaction data processed by Inmar is so detailed the company can know if a consumer is complying with their medical treatment, because it knows when they are filling their prescription drugs. But that’s just a start, says Ross, noting that Inmar also has data on each individual’s consumer goods purchases, so it can tell, for example, whether consumers are purchasing food or drink products that might be counterproductive to certain medical treatments. It also would know how and whether to recommend alternative purchases — ideally healthier ones — the consumer could make instead. And it can leverage the consumer’s own metadata to inform them about it.</quote>
  • Buzzzzz!
    • Quantified Self
      • biometrics
      • Names Dropped
      • Fitbit
      • Jawbone
      • Nike Fuelband
    • Something about nudging people to do the right thing with these wearables (the pestering technologies).
  • Products & Services
    • Something about a health care/insurance network/provider
      something about monitoring the consumers.
    • Something about automated coupon fulfillment
      Using CRM, the coupons are applied at checkout “automatically”
      Claim: <quote>Inmar’s research has already detected some significant shifts in consumer behavior and attitudes toward promotional offers when the process moves from clipping coupons to downloading digital coupons.</quote>


Jay Edelson’s Class-Action Privacy Suits Could Make Him Tech’s Least Friended Man | NYT

Jay Edelson’s Class-Action Privacy Suits Could Make Him Tech’s Least Friended Man; Conor Dougherty; In The New York Times (NYT); 2015-04-04.


  • Jay Edelson
    • age 42
    • activist, litigator, greenmailer
    • childhood “outside Boston”
    • University of Michigan Law School
  • Edelson PC
    • Chicago IL
    • 13th floor
    • Christopher Dore, partner
    • 20 employees
    • Millennial-type party atmosphere (see pictures)
    • Employees
      • Shawn Davis, non-legal associate, a tech expert somehow; an “analyst”
  • Targets
    • Spokeo; Pasadena, CA
      • previously settled with the FTC for $800,000 for the harm of incorrect & uncorrectable information in consumer background check service.
      • Thomas Robins, was harmed, current litigant; class exemplar.
      • Penalties at $1,000/violation.
      • John Nadolenco, partner, Mayer Brown, Los Angeles
        representing Spokeo’s in the action
        “He is not saying that has happened to him — it’s just a speculative injury that could happen, Well, that’s not an injury.”
      • declarations of support:
        • eBay
        • Facebook
        • Google
        • Yahoo
    • Facebook

      • Biometric Information Privacy Act, an Illinois state law
      • Facebook is storing digitized facial images.
  • Previous
    • Netflix
      • Harm: retention of viewing records after customer cancellation
      • $9M to Edelson PC
      • Harm: ran ads on web pages owned by their customers.
  • Counterpoints
    • Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator
      “a leech tarted up as a freedom fighter.”
    • Scott A. Kamber, ex-partner, now a rival; a greenmailer
      “He wants to be perceived as running a tech firm, but since he’s not a tech guy, the closest he will come is a law firm,” said  a rival class-action lawyer who was Mr. Edelson’s partner before they amicably split.
    • Michael Rhodes, partner, Cooley, San Francisco
      “It’s legal gotcha, and he tries to convince you that because there’s a legal gotcha with a big number, then you should pay him instead of litigating, That’s his business model.”
    • Michael Klausner, professor, Stanford Law School.
      opinement on class action litigation as an approach & concept.
    • Brian Fitzpatrick, professor, Vanderbilt Law School
      opinement on class actions; studies class-action cases.
  • General Background
    color on regulation & public & private actions

    • Ian Ballon, associate, Greenberg Traurig, Silicon Valley (San Jose?)
      mentioned for an (uncited) opinement on the increase in class action litigation
    • Ted Frank, propietor, Center for Class Action Fairness.
    • Al Franken, Senator, Democrat, Minnesota,
    • Something abou the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • Legislation
    • Video Privacy Protection Act
      • 1988
      • On the occasion of the publication of Robert Bork’s video viewing habits after his nomination to the Supreme Court.
    • Telephone Consumer Protection Act,
      • 1991
      • restricts telemarketing
    • Electronic Communications Privacy Act
      • phone calls
      • email
    • Fair Credit Reporting Act
      • 1970s
    • Europe “right to be forgotten”
  • Background
    • survey, Pew Research Center
      self-attestation by interviewees.
    • <quote>Two years ago, in an attempt to head off a class-action lawsuit involving Gmail, the company wrote in a legal filing that people who used the service should never have expected their emails to be private, and it compared Gmail correspondence to business letters that can be viewed by assistants in an office. The company was quickly attacked by groups like Consumer Watchdog. “A lot of privacy assurances fall away when companies like Google end up in court,” said Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.</quote>

Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup – Class 4 Notes Essay | Blake Masters

Blake Masters; Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup – Class 4 Notes Essay; In His Blog; 2014-09.


  • “Capitalism” in metaphor.
  • “Innovation” in metaphor.
  • “Competition” vs “Monopoly” in “capitalism”
    • Always want “Monopoly”
    • Unless you are a consumer.
  • “Disruption” in metaphor, it is the reigning  metaphor of the biz-lit culture.
  • “The Frontier” as metaphor.