Finding Happiness

We have been friends for many years. Recently we both attended a small conference about technology and consciousness. How can technology, and specifically artificial intelligence, affect our state of consciousness? Lots of interesting people were there: from Microsoft, from Impact Financing and from many other backgrounds.

On the way home from the conference, we were driving together in the same car. Talking together, we realized something interesting. When people get together in the technology field to talk about new developments, there are really two questions that commonly get asked.

The first question is: “Can it be done? Do we have the technology available to create this?”

The second question is: “Will people pay for it? Will people be willing to adopt this technology in a way that creates financial return?”

But there Is also another very important question we can ask about the advance of technology. It is not about whether it can be done, or even about whether it will be adopted. We can also ask: “Is it actually good for us? Is it in alignment with what we really want, with what we most deeply long for?”

To answer that question, during the long drive from Southern California to Northern California, we reflected upon some commonly held values, which most people can agree upon. And then we measured advances in technology according to these values.

Check out the questions we asked ourselves, and tell us your answers.

On the other hand, being of a ripe old age now, we both grew up before there were computers, and even calculators. We learned to do mental arithmetic in our head. The more that we each use a calculator, the less we are able to perform these functions mentally. We notice when we go to a store and want to buy four items each for , a younger person helping in the store has to use a calculator to multiply x 4. Regularly using the spell checker will almost certainly reduce your ability to spell well on your own. These are examples where technology has made us more reliant upon it, and reduced our sense of self-sufficiency.

Using technology in a way that makes us dependent is potentially a great risk. If solar rays from the sun suddenly fried all the microchips, for example, we would all be in deep trouble.

Is Technology Bringing You Closer To People Or Will It Make You More Isolated?

Research shows that the number one factor in creating a life of happiness is the quality of your personal relationships. We view love as an intrinsically desirable experience, and we view loneliness and isolation as intrinsically negative.

For sure, we can find plenty of examples of technology that brings us closer to other people. A soldier or a missionary worker sent overseas for many months, or even years, can connect with loved ones using Skype or Google Hangout. You can maintain real conversations with people, where you can see body language as well as hear the voice, in a way we’ve never been able to do before.

On the other hand, video games you play by yourself, or many other of the activities we do on a cell phone, may actually isolate you from other people.

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