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The Double-Edged Sword of Digital Health (The Downside Will Surprise You)

Credit: MythBusters “You know I, need to choose the correct path, change the aftermath, Before she sings my song, ‘cause it may not be long: Karma’s a double-edged sword. Karma’s a double-edged sword.” - Cunninlynguists, Karma In 2015, I published the phrase “digital therapeutics” in a research paper, and defined this new field as: “evidence-based behavioral treatments delivered online that can increase accessibility and effectiveness of health care.” It’s amazing to see there are now dozens of startups and investors that continue to create digital therapeutics to treat chronic pain, depression, anxiety, asthma, and other conditions. The first part of digital health’s mission—increasing access to care—is progressively being achieved. The Sharpened Edge: Access to Care Digital therapeutics are intrinsically designed to be scalable through...

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Augmented Intelligence: How to Combine Human and Artificial Intelligence to Change Behavior

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is the most promising and overhyped technology of our times. AI techniques such as deep learning have allowed computers to match or even beat world experts at games like chess and Go, and even board-certified doctors at diagnosing diabetic retinopathy and skin cancer. While AI is great for recognizing patterns in puzzles and pictures, it is much harder for AI to change the behavior of people, in all their fascinating and frustrating complexity. In an earlier post on the Keystone Habit, I introduced the concept of using goals and habit change loops for personal development. Now let’s explore how to combine these loops for product development, in order to design a system to help someone change. Here, I argue that human intelligence is better applied to helping...

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Your Company’s Culture is Who You Hire, Fire, & Promote

Part 1, The Performance-Values Matrix “The actual company values, as opposed to the nice-sounding values, are shown by who gets rewarded, promoted, or let go.”- Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility Every time I walk into a new company I am advising, I invariably encounter a set of noble values that are prominently displayed on the walls. So the first thing I do is look past them by carefully observing how people really behave, which tells me what I actually need to know. It’s not that most companies are disingenuous about the values they espouse. One of Enron’s “aspirational values” was integrity, which may have genuinely expressed who they wanted to be at the beginning. But over time, this did not reflect...

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Anatomy of an Asshole

Part 2 of “Your Company’s Culture Is Who You Hire, Fire & Promote” Photo Credit: HarperBusiness, “Snakes in Suits” In Part 1, The Performance-Values Matrix, I argued that the biggest reason company cultures degrade is they hire, retain, and promote “assholes” (mercenary employees whose lack of empathy causes interpersonal issues). I also introduced the Performance-Values Matrix as a reinforcement system address this problem. Let’s now dive deeper into clinical understanding of this behavior and how it can be carefully managed in a corporation. Part I: Anatomy of an Asshole (The Dark Triad) “Asshole” is not a term I use clinically/scientifically, but people use it commonly because it provides a shared understanding of something you “know when you see it.” So my goal...

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How Gratitude Changed the Course of My Life

I celebrate Thanksgiving nearly every night. Before I go to sleep, I write down and savor five things that I am grateful for in this world. Sometimes they are as silly as setting a new personal record on my squat or deadlift that day, and often they are as important as my loved ones and health. I started this habit since I read research in college showing that this simple exercise can significantly increase psychological and physical well-being. But I kept this habit since I learned first-hand that gratitude can have far more powerful effects, such as changing the course of your life. Here’s how it changed mine: VENI: This is the anniversary of my attending the Stanford Quest Scholars program....

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