Thursday, April 02, 2015

An app to promote social responsibility

This post is a follow-up about people who carry critical responsibilities involving others’ lives. Stressful events do occur as often in their lives as in the case of others’. Only people very close to them may be aware of these stressful events – friends, family, and doctors. The doctor may schedule a biopsy for a pilot the following week and the pilot might be flying an intercontinental flight that night. Events do not always occur giving adequate recovery time between them. Sometimes they pile on an individual, creating extreme stress.

Let us assume that carrying critical responsibility over other peoples’ lives means that one might need to make some compromises in regard to one’s own privacy. Assume that the law gets amended if necessary, to permit the kind of monitoring I propose below; an appropriate set of safeguards would have to be incorporated. The individual concerned would enroll in a program, identifying five or more people close to him, whom he authorizes to report weekly about any stress he might be under and other circumstances that need the attention of his supervisor. His contacts use an app to send a machine processable report weekly indicating any stress, incident, or other problem. Alternatively, there would be a positive report saying that the reporting person had contact with the monitored person and was not aware of anything to cause concern. The contacts would of course have to be educated and responsible people, well briefed and knowledgeable. Most of the time a computer would crunch the incoming reports and file them away in some well-protected manner. Exceptional circumstances would be "recognized" by an algorithm and reported to the supervisor immediately. 

I am not saying that any such scheme should be implemented in the real world right now. All I would like to see for the present is discussion of the issues involved and carrying out of psychological experiments. Perhaps there is way to make peoples’ lives a little safer. We could do it, hopefully, without being unfair to people who carry onerous responsibilities, and without dehumanizing ourselves in implementing the system. Caring for others’ lives need not conflict with compassion for individual under stress or other unfortunate circumstances.  

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