Technology replaces spirit – New ways to happiness

The pursuit of happiness belongs to humanity. While no one has cracked the universal code of happiness, new technologies may soon make it possible. In the study “Wellness 2030 – The new techniques of happiness”, GDI researchers describe how.
31 August, 2018 by
Technik statt Geist – Neue Wege ins Glück
GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute

This text is an excerpt from the GDI study “Wellness 2030 - The new techniques of happiness”, which is available as a free PDF download.

For the Ancient Greeks, the founders of Western civilization, happiness meant living a good life, a moral achievement. But this applied primarily to a small, privileged populace lucky enough to describe themselves as “free”. With the rise of the major world religions, the faithful dedicated themselves to a concept bigger than humanity; their happiness lay in the hands of God. This relationship was characterized by suffering and deprivation, but adherents expected happiness if they followed tenets.

This perspective shifted dramatically during the industrial revolution. With economisation emerged a new ideal – being the architect of your own fortune. To some extent, happiness could be measured by an individual’s economic success and social status.

Happiness was also dependent upon a person’s nature and genes, which enabled good health and physical appearance. Happiness involved exploration of diverse cultures, which were integrated into the wellness industry. Spa rituals, for example, often allude to Far East practices. The pursuit of happiness always involved significant personal effort. In terms of religion, it was tied to passion and deprivation. The process was expensive, time-consuming and usually lifelong – and few found complete happiness.

Today, increasingly powerful technologies present new possibilities. Even gradually adopting these, we have advanced human nature dramatically. Now we’re in the process of hacking biology – we are beginning to reprogram human nature. In this vein, immortality becomes a mere engineering challenge.

The wellness industry is especially affected by these changes; it is becoming, to an increasing degree, an extension of data science. Silicon Valley innovators and biohackers are pioneers of the new industry. With fresh solutions, IT companies are expanding their offerings in the established market. As previous approaches to achieving happiness –through attitude, mindfulness or other “spiritual tools” – are enhanced by technical instruments, the determining factors of happiness will become measurable. Already, wearables and apps generate data that facilitates conclusions about a user's current health state. In the future, humans will be completely machine-readable and able to program our well-being behavior.

Read more about the new techniques of happiness in the GDI study “Wellness 2030”.


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