Thoughts on Mental Health Tech

I recently read this article on a potential California system to identify and push along services to the mentally ill in order to better support and service their journey to healthy. Frankly, I don’t think people realize how useful it can be (as long as the service is very much opt-in).

The most important priority in any person with a mental illness and/or serious mental illness is to get healthy. The disease they have affects behavior based on internal mechanisms of something that’s, right now, unnoticeable. Generally, what that leads to is a lack of understanding and help for the individual to go anywhere in life until they’ve shown and proven to be healthy and productive to any new person. So, the question arises: how do you know someone’s healthy with a mental health condition? What are the factors to look at? Are they a “danger” to themselves or anybody else?

Doctors, as always, can give an approval that someone is healthy enough to contribute back to society (though that’s a tough situation to be in to give approval about someone’s human rights to the pursuit of life, liberty, and freedom). Also, some peer and support network can give the a-ok that they’re ready to go (in the best case scenario). Though, no one really has a standardized plan for these efforts, as of yet, on any real scale. Also, unfortunately, medical science just can’t pick up on real-time internal mechanisms for behavior right now (at least I haven’t seen anything great and useful).

The technology that is available, like the Apple Watch and Fitbit, are trying to get there alongside other apps that track your CNS, but it’s really not accurate enough. Plus, they’re all new, unproven tech that is going through growth and needs to be researched and proven in clinical trials, IMO. Most monitors right now, like the fMRI scan and blood tests, are static.

I’ll disclose: Personally, as a person with a 10+ year tech career and a good understanding of how some of this stuff works…as well as with a serious mental illness myself (yes, very much stabilized now), I want to prove I’m capable of leading a very productive life to anyone new I meet. That’s where, I think, Mindstrong has a potentially fully realizable dream. It’s where the 20% of the population suffering from a mental illness can fully say, “yes, I’m either unhealthy or healthy enough to contribute to society on any level and to any person or group of people”. Incredibly important and a hugely untapped market.

I don’t give one crap about the privacy concerns, as long as I opt-in, because I’d gladly give that up, in my situation, in order to live a great and productive life again (the same or better one than I had before – which is saying a lot). That’s the state I and many others are in from what I’ve seen. Not a good situation to be in life. Further, a lot of this tech would help drastically improve scientific understanding of a very unknown set of illnesses. That’s worth it for any set of privacy concerns to get and gain stability.

Starlink and Us

After a day thinking about it, here are my expanded thoughts on Starlink and it’s initial 60-satellite launch 2 days ago.

I don’t think people understand how important this SpaceX Starlink constellation is yet. Namely, we’re living in the future now and even sooner than we think.

The 4B people (mostly developing countries) that aren’t on the worldwide internet are going to have cheap access in 2-3 years because of this (or nearly instantaneously when it turns on). That’s amazing – we’re talking about revenues of increased to $30B-$50B for SpaceX in just a single day/week/month too (to further space exploration and colonizing the Moon and Mars). We’re talking about a social media app like Facebook going from 2B users to 6B users, potentially, in a single day/week/month (obviously not accurate, but just explaining the potential situation). Other possibilities:

  1. We’ll be able to live anywhere, practically, with access to the Internet and all services.
  2. Developing countries will suddenly have access to all apps, info, and data that’s accessible to us in Silicon Valley in just one day, cheaply.
  3. We’ll be able to have all your devices, individually, connected to the Internet from practically anywhere.
  4. Companies will be able to improve logistics and fleet routes to decrease, significantly, travel time for shipped goods.
  5. Tons and tons of data collection across all devices (e.g. clean tech and electricity consumption and weather devices) at high throughput.

Lots of implications when you start really delving into what this constellation means, I think.

Thoughts on Tesla’s Risks

Had a chat with a mentor and friend about Tesla recently and he asked about the rising risk profile on Tesla and concerns about the stock and market overall. These were my thoughts:

The current risks (that he mentioned):

  1. Departing Board Members
  2. Outside looking view of change in Autonomous Driving (or “Robotaxis”)
  3. Slumping sales
  4. Federal Tax Credit Ending
  5. Increasing Competition
  6. Quality Issues
  7. Support Problems
  8. Logistic Issues
  9. Convertible Bonds raise of $2.7B

Other risks (I mention):

  1. Macro factors: recession looming
  2. Side effects on Automotive market due to Tesla effect
  3. Labor effects on Automotive market and negative sentiment effect
  4. No effect on global temp change due to Tesla push
  5. Resource crunch due to hindrance by negative forces

Headwinds (2019):

  1. China Gigafactory Completion in May
  2. Buffalo Gigafactory Ramp-up in Q2
  3. Reduced cost to operate for Automotive
  4. Increased sales of FSD (baked in to Automotive Sale)
  5. New paid software features
  6. Multiple quarters of positive new cash flow (thus, incorporation of Tesla into S&P 500)

Considerations:

  • Is climate change real? If agreed upon yes, then entire entire energy consumption to usage lifecycle [ECUT Lifecycle] needs to be rethought towards renewables
  • How much is Automotive and Energy Consumption+Usage Utility Market worth? Both are $3T markets (Tesla is tackling both)
  • Is Tesla the primary leader in the new market? I’d say yes based on demand and execution.
  • Will Tesla continue to be the primary leader going forward? I’d say yes because they have the best lead and they’re moving faster. With even better products likely to be built off of great design and data.
  • What does a market leader generally comprise of in market share? Anywhere between 10-50%.

With all of those laid out (I’m sure I missed some), the simple investment question is, “do you believe climate change is real?”. I’ve believed yes since 2009 and wanted to see someone executing on fixing the problem. I’ve learned that it’s not just a problem to fix, but an innovation cycle that will make things better. Tesla is a safe bet, as long as it has cash, to become gigantic…anywhere from a $600B -> $3T market cap even though it’s sitting on ~$36.7B today. If you take a 5-10 year view out and look at the situation, I’d say Tesla is in the 3rd-4th inning of a fight to completely replace our ECUT Lifecycle against the incumbents that have spent the better part of 100+ years owning it and established companies, organizations, and national powers around it. This all likely affects practically everyone on the planet.

You’re, essentially, betting that Elon Musk and Tesla (and everyone that works and/or roots with/for them) is there in order to fix one question: is climate change real? If so, then that means the likelihood of the entire human civilization being wiped out is possible. It’s very …extraordinary and the stakes sound really dire and out of a comic book. Well, it’s been scientifically proven to be accurate even by Exxon/Mobil back in 1982. That’s the situation that we are in. From the risks outlined, the Tesla strategy seems to be to replace the world’s ECUT Lifecycle and to use the current lifecycle where the weather is increasingly working against them (e.g. Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico).

So, slumping sales, volatility of board members, “quality issues”, and “support issues” can be put under a stress umbrella under an aggressive worldwide strategy and effort to ECUT products around the world from only a ~$36.7B company (e.g. Facebook is worth ~$529.2B today) right now. Also, this is starting to undercut sales of other very large companies in the same huge and important market as we see in US April auto sales (most unsold ever). As a leader, how do you deal with this situation other than keeping on pushing forward in the 3rd-4th inning rather than throwing up your hands and saying, “oh shit, this is too much and too many problems to deal with!”? I think that’s where Robotaxis have come in after Tesla’s announcement of them in their Autonomy Day.

Tesla’s well-communicated out vision since 2015 has incorporated this concept due to huge under-utilization of the concept of the car of 5% of time being used for anything other than a parked state. I believe Tesla’s going to find out just how much that utilization rate can be increased by deploying the Robotaxis (maybe 1st in Norway) and seeing how profit margins can increase. It’s incorporated into the design of the car/vehicle itself with 1M miles as a design constraint. Why not push the bar?

With every % increase in utilization, the less cars need to be sold (out of 97M+ annual vehicles global sales market). Thus, hopefully, more of a synthesis in transition with the current ECUT lifecycle. We’re in this massive innovation change and we’re (i.e. every human being on the planet) all a part of it at this point to make sure climate change is averted now that most of the world (and hopefully the entire world) understands that it’s scientifically proven for decades, known, and understood. Hope we figure it out in time.

BizzyBot: Tinkering w/ Twilio SMS

So, I built a small Flask app while tinkering with Twilio API’s called BizzyBot. It’s a SMS bot that provides requests/responses for your personal business card information. It was fun, quick, and easy to set up using the Twilio Console, Python, ngrok, and Twilio docs. It’s amazing how far they’ve gone just building out their documentation and having other users built out their own getting started guides. The main block, “bizzy”, parses through a text request and runs the “getContent” method to choose which response to send back.

from flask import Flask, request, redirect
from twilio.twiml.messaging_response import MessagingResponse

app = Flask(__name__)

# Get the business card info to text back
def getContent(msg):

    msg = msg.lower().strip()
    bizinfo = ""

    if "resume" in msg:
        bizinfo = "https://www.dropbox.com/s/edf1u3pjp999ks9/AakashDesai_Resume.pdf"
    elif "phone" in msg:
        bizinfo = PHONE_NUMBER
    elif "email" in msg:
        bizinfo = EMAIL
    elif "github" in msg:
        bizinfo = "http://www.github.com/aakashhdesai"
    elif "blog" in msg:
        bizinfo = "http://aakashdesai.blog"
    elif "linkedin" in msg:
        bizinfo = "http://www.linkedin.com/in/aakashhdesai"
    else:
      bizinfo = "Welcome to Aakash's SMS Biz Card! Please reply with one of the following: resume, phone, email, github, blog, linkedin"

    return bizinfo 

@app.route('/', methods=['GET','POST'])
def bizzy():
    # Get the body of the incoming text request
    body = request.values.get('Body', None)
    
    # Start a Twilio response object
    resp = MessagingResponse()
    
    # Reply back to the text request
    replyText = getContent(body)

    resp.message(replyText)
    return str(resp)

if __name__ == '__main__':
app.run(debug=True)

Going through the normal offline to online workflow, I found that tech folks found the exchange fun…though new. Fun experiment and I’m not sure how it’ll go with people who don’t already understand the tech.

In the future, I’d like to build out more of a chat workflow and maybe apply it to the blog somehow. If you’re interested in checking out the app SMS workflow, ping me via GitHub or channels and will send over the phone number!

Climate Mood

Continuing with the delve into Climate Change, looked into understanding how people feel, positive/neutral/negative, about the subject on Twitter. Using TextBlob, with Tweepy, Pandas, and Plotly Dash…I built initial revision of a data visualization dashboard, Climate Mood, that analyzes tweets over a sample of the last 2,000 collected hourly. The idea is to provide a simple, sentiment-focused look across multiple analyses. I’ve particularly enjoyed building and re-applying some of the methodologies and statistical analyses I’ve learned recently.

Go to the dashboard

As mentioned, the dashboard pulls from Twitter over an hourly basis and deposits into a PostgreSQL database. The top chart provides a linear regression trend line (unevenly for now) across tweets collected that can be toggled. Also, tweets can be seen on the top-right tweet-box on hover. Other simple sentiment analyses include average verbosity of tweet length, popularity of tweets, and average sentiment-based amplitude of tweets. Feel free to check it out!

Looking forward to applying more statistical analyses across these auto-updated samples. If you have any feedback or suggestions, please submit an issue on the GitHub repo or contact me.


Climate Trends

Been thinking about climate a bunch lately and started looking into trying out the latest data tools and trends out there on the Internets. I’ve particularly enjoyed R and Pandas/Python, especially via Plotly Dash, and re-applying some of the methodologies and statistical analyses I’ve learned while on the job. The latest curiosity is in global temperature change since 1910 and various other societal factors. Lo and behold, the first iteration and not-so-polished, Climate Trends.

You can view the dashboard here

The dashboard has a drop-down menu of various analyses around global temperature change and linear fits across birth rates, fertility rates, death rates, life expectancy at birth, and rural population growth rate as well as a nominal years passed chart. Feel free to dabble!

If you have any feedback or suggestions, please submit an issue on the GitHub repo, respond on Dribbble, or contact me.

Anaphylaxis & More @ UC Irvine

Near-death experiences provide a heavy emotional weight…even 16 years later and, generally, the rest of a person’s life.

Still remember everything, as much as I can, from that night in Irvine. My most important anniversary thus far in life. Here goes:

It started with a pecan-filled brownie that wasn’t properly listed with its ingredients. After eating it at Mesa Commons, a half hour later I started experiencing all sorts of issues: swollen throat, diarrhea, vomiting, blood-red eyes, swollen forehead (that was red too through my brown skin), a distinct lack of oxygen, inability to walk without support, and an inability to breath or talk. I needed to type out, letter barely after letter, to take me to the hospital by my dorm-mates. I lost consciousness before I got out of the door. My dormmates told me that I fell apart in their arms at the steps leading to the parking lot and fell down a flight unconscious. They called the paramedics and I got a number of Epipen shots to kick my body into gear…ended up 30 minutes to an hour later at the ICU at Irvine Hospital. The docs took awhile on me and tried out some experimental drug to open up my lungs and throat…a last ditch effort before calling me dead, actually.

Thankfully, my lungs and throat opened up. 3/4’s of a day later, I woke up from a coma that the doctors weren’t sure if I’d ever wake up from with a family crying (they drove all the way down overnight not knowing if I was going to be alive or dead by the time they reached there). I was intubated and lying there motionless not able to move a muscle as my body was wrecked and lifeless.

It took another day to move me out of ICU and into a proper bed without intubation or…anything else needed to support me. I couldn’t walk for a day, but I told my parents, well, I had homework I needed to get done by Monday for my Physics class (one of the first things I said after getting out of the coma). I stayed 3 days in the hospital and my parents, incredibly begrudgingly decided to keep me in Irvine (400 miles away and only 4 months being alone for the first time in my life). I went to my physics class in a crutch unable to walk properly, but I was there at 7:30am in the morning with my homework.

From there, I ended up on academic contract a quarter later. I survived that as well taking the toughest grading professors in the Computer Engineering program for 3 straight quarters. Ended up graduating with a pretty decent GPA after it and a lot of discipline built up over the years and through that.

Trip to India

Heading to India for a vacation and now have a chance to try out a lot of different foods, hopefully, and check out places I haven’t been able to previously. Something I’ve missed out on in my life as cultural events and family parties were kind of a death wish due to the various nuts, beans, and seeds that were prevalent. Thanks to my awesome reduction in allergies, have a chance at reconnecting with my parent’s roots as well and seeing things as what they went through. Even put together a spreadsheet/rubric on things to do and eat there (as well as various transportation options that are pertinent).

Have been to India in the past, but it’s also been limited. This time, there’s happiness and excitement to something I’ve always wanted to partake in. Very excited about the trip and looking forward to seeing family as well as trying out a lot of “new” without any deathly allergies!

My Investment Research Checklist

I was talking to family and friends about various investments made (and some missed out on) over the years. Have gotten decent at picking winners (using a Value-Investment framework inspired by this book that mixes intuition, selection, and analysis). Here’s the base-level rubric for what I look into before I investment into any company. Some analyses go further. Generally, 9 months to 1 year is taken before any action…essentially driving the associations of the entity into muscle memory and relying on intuition, alongside any other company/product/market, to make the call.

Market

  • Read on 3-6 months of articles on stock and target company
  • Read on 3-6 months of analyst coverage on stock
  • Find Market Cap potential of target company
  • Find Market Leader
  • Identify Competitor Set
  • Identify Lead Competitor(s)
  • Find Growth Darkhorse(s)
  • Identify any market regulation

Product

  • Determine CEO capabilities and habits
  • Determine CEO’s style of communications (past 2 years)
  • Identify Product Roadmap
  • Read last 5 product announcements
  • Linkedin Lookup on Corporate/Employee Composition (specifically product/marketing/engineering)

Company

  • Read past 10 10-Q, 2 10-K
  • Identify, if possible, Sales & Marketing + R&D spend
  • Identify, if possible, Growth of S & M + R & D spend

Would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to DM via LinkedIn.

SJ Charts

SJ Charts is available now fully open-sourced here! Plot.ly has been fun and the documentation, as well as the community forums, have been great to work with. Wish there was more in-grained analytics support via Google Analytics and Mixpanel, but that seems to be a work-in-progress. Here’s what it looks like now:

The charts now have time-based charts for Housing Prices, Unemployment rate, and Jobs by Sector for the City of San Jose. The idea behind this app is to show various analyses via a top-level tabbed navigation for the City of San Jose residents. Basically, to build out useful analyses for the open data available from the City of San Jose.