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Wellness Experts Predict a Rise in “Tech Ethicists” as Society Grapples with Technology’s Impact on Modern Culture

May 22, 2019 Health and Wellness No Comments Email Email

According to the Global Wellness Institute’s Digital Wellness Initiative, technology’s deep infiltration into our daily lives is creating an increased need for ethic experts to navigate us through the rough waters ahead. The Global Wellness Institute™ (GWI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and considered the leading global research and educational resource for the global wellness industry.

“Serious questions are taking root around technology’s impact—and threat—to human culture,” said Jeremy McCarthy, the Initiative’s Chair and Global Director of Spa & Wellness at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. “For example, is it ethical to use technology to modify the DNA of our children? Should we ask medical doctors to implant technology into our bodies to give ourselves superhuman abilities? Should the services we use be able to sell our data to third parties for profit?”

Beyond the ethical issues of what technology should be allowed to do, there is also growing consumer demand for more privacy and increased transparency from the tech giants that have created the potentially negative deep cultural shifts seen worldwide. According to GWI’s Digital Wellness Initiative’s forecast, those that fail to answer consumers’ demands are facing a hefty price—the loss of users.

Under McCarthy, who is also the author of “The Psychology of Spas & Wellbeing,” the recipient of the Global Wellness Summit’s first-ever Debra Simon Award for Leader in Furthering Mental Wellness, and winner of the 2019 ISPA Visionary Award, the Digital Wellness Initiative predicts the following shifts in our relationship with technology:

Big Tech Answers Back with Wellness: Expect more tech companies to hire digital wellness experts to help them develop and enhance their products to ensure they are not so disruptive to their users’ wellbeing that they begin to lose market share.

Rise of “Tech Ethics”: Technology companies will not only need wellness experts, but they will also need experts on ethics. “We’ve spent most of the last century thinking about what we could do with technology. The answer seems to be clear: almost anything. Now, the question is what we should do with technology,” said McCarthy.

Demand for Transparency and Privacy: Over the last decade, consumers became smitten with new devices and services and willingly gave up significant amounts of privacy and allowed a certain amount of power and control to come from corporate advertisers. But recent Facebook scandals about privacy have sent people looking for newer and better alternatives. New subscription-based services are emerging that offer greater transparency, greater privacy and more freedom from corporate advertisers, which will shape consumers’ expectations into the future. Examples include Medium and the search engine DuckDuckGo, which promises not to monitor users’ data.

The Rise of Wellness Tech: Despite the privacy backlash, people will increasingly use devices to manage their personal wellbeing, including monitoring diets, sleep patterns or emotional health; managing exercise programs; or developing a meditation practice. From a medical standpoint, both patients and physicians will turn to technology as their first point of reference. Healthcare will be increasingly delivered via technology, and diagnosis will be increasingly performed by artificial intelligence.

Tech Takes Mindfulness Mainstream: Mindfulness meditation will follow the same meteoric rise in popularity that yoga has experienced because mindfulness is the best approach we have for understanding the algorithms of our mind. Ironically, technology will help solve this problem with apps and programs, such as Headspace or Waking Up, to help people develop their mindfulness skills in a radically more accessible way.

The GWI supports 20 industry Initiatives to further global conversations about wellness in its many and varied forms. Other GWI Initiative trends, including Hot Springs, Mental Wellness, Sound Healing and more, can be found on the Institute’s website.

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