HACKING HAPPINESS by John C. Havens

HACKING HAPPINESS

Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking It Can Change the World

KIRKUS REVIEW

Mashable and Guardian contributing writer Havens provides a detailed defense of how developing technologies in augmented reality and wearable devices can increase happiness.

According to the author, advances in technology do not have to lead to a dystopian future of government/corporate surveillance and loss of privacy. Rather, they can be used to promote a greater sense of well-being by helping us to better understand ourselves, control our personal data and connect to others. Havens envisions individuals owning their data, which they can choose to share and even sell. Why, he asks, should corporations make money off the data we are currently giving away for a few coupons or rewards points? Furthermore, this data, garnered through the use of wearable devices and apps, can provide individuals with quantifiable information about their habits, preferences and emotional states. This will help people make decisions that will lead to a happier life. Havens spends much of the book discussing positive psychology, including the research that shows one’s happiness increases with altruistic activities. By creating a more “connected world,” he imagines a future in which people are judged not by their words but by their deeds, both personally and professionally. Since our actions will be visible to others, our reputations will no longer be built on superficial attributes but on our behaviors. Havens even imagines the decline of the GDP and the rise of indicators that will measure happiness as a means for gauging wealth and value on a worldwide scale. While the book certainly opens up an important conversation about how individuals can, and should, manage their data in an age of rapid advancements in personal technology, the assumption that we will be able to profit from our data, much less control its use (and then use it to better ourselves and the world), is a rose-colored view.

An optimistic vision of how new technologies can be reimagined to increase productivity and personal growth.

Pub Date: March 20th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-399-16531-3
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Tarcher/Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2014




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