The Forgotten Plan To Use Health Tracker Data (To Predict Mass Shootings)

12 MAYe 05

As if it wasn't bad enough that America is inching ever closer to apocalyptic authoritarianism like a worm with a Punisher tattoo on its back, the Trump administration now appears hell-bent on pushing through as many dystopian initiatives as possible. Initiatives like appointing judges who make Judge Dredd look like Judge Reinhold and carving up Alaska's wildlife refuges for corporations to drill into oblivion

And, terrifyingly, the Trump administration has plenty of backburner ideas to RoboCop up our future. For instance, take HARPA. First proposed in 2017 by the Suzanne Wright Foundation, the "Health Advanced Research Projects Agency" was to become the Health Department's equivalent to DARPA -- the experimental research branch best known for wacky national security inventions like the internet. At first, HARPA's schemes were very noble, like the speedy development of ways to lower pancreatic cancer mortality rates. But that kind of talk proved too boring, so HARPA pivoted to a much more fun idea: What if we monitored all health devices to lock up the mentally ill?

In 2019, the initiative gained massive White House popularity after pitching its SAFE HOME project. SAFE HOME is an acronym for "Stopping Aberrant Fatal Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes." And looking at what little concrete info there is on HARPA's 3rd rate Squarespace site, they must've spent most of their research thinking up that stretch of an acronym. But the concept is simple: Using data collected from devices like Fitbit, Apple Watch, and Google Home, SAFE HOME would develop an artificial intelligence able to monitor citizens' "neurobehavioral signs" and predict who of us is "headed towards violent behavior" such as walking into a crowded space and unloading an AR-15. 

Let's go over that again: SAFE HOME aims to give the government an advanced AI to peruse all personal data gathered on our wrists and in our homes in order to weed out any 'mental undesirables' in the population. That couldn't sound more dystopian if the program also came with an app that would tell people where the nearest book burnings were. Are there really people so obsessed with checking their daily steps that they'd keep wearing a wrist-monitoring device that might one day hunt them down like they're living in a crossover between Logan's Run and Minority Report?

Worse, the HARPA initiative caters to the false narrative that acts of great violence are caused by the mentally ill. This, despite many studies affirming that, until white supremacy gets its own chapter in the next DSM, the mentally ill make for a very small percentage of mass shooters. Fortunately for us who don't want to worry that some government AI deems us a psychological threat based on how we dim our smart bulbs, the SAFE HOME project got lost in the pandemic shuffle mere months later. But with the recent corporate police state initiatives being rolled out at breakneck speed, it's probably best that nobody reminds the White House of the existence of HARP--ah, CRAP. 

For more smart device shenanigans, do follow Cedric on Twitter.

Top Image: Pxhere


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