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The Power of "Positive Computing"


In today’s increasingly connected online world where apps, wearable devices, social media and other interactive forums are closely integrated into people’s daily lives, a new movement is emerging — one that champions the concept that technology should contribute to a person’s well-being and potential. Known as “positive computing,” the movement is gaining considerable ground according to The Washington Post, which credits two academics from the University of Sydney with furthering discussion of this topic through the release of their book “Positive Computing: Technology for Wellbeing and Human Potential.”

As reported in a recent Forbes article, the notion of positive computing has roots in human psychology and the premise that “almost all systems can be designed to ensure that they promote wellness.” Examples of wellness-centered innovations already available include apps and systems such as Breath Walk, Smiling Mind and Happify, and the video game Peace Maker, which encourages conflict resolution.

This idea is also the focus of a popular, free online course, "The Science of Happiness," being offered by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. Since the course first launched this past September, more than 150,000 students have registered, eager to learn more about achieving mental well-being, identify strategies for nurturing their own happiness and participate in a weekly regime of related exercises designed to track their progress along the way.

Ultimately, what adherents of positive computing have in mind is to fundamentally change the way humans and computers interact. Thought leaders are already advocating that the next revolution of technological devices and Internet-connected things be developed with the intent to enhance the human experience, foster individual growth and make everyday interactions more meaningful. And, as the article in The Washington Post points out, Silicon Valley is jumping on the bandwagon, with technologists “reinventing themselves as techno-philanthropists with breakthrough ideas of how to use technology to make the world a better place.”

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