What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: Can technology make us happy?

Dan Gilbert: I think technology could be quite relevant to our happiness.  That is, we could use technology to improve it.  But I don’t think we do.  And I think the reason we don’t is we don’t really know what to aim for.  We don’t know what kinds of things make us happy. And so we don’t invent machines that will help us do them.  Nobody, to my knowledge, has yet to create a technology that allows you to spend more time with your family.  And yet this is something we know makes people, in general, happier.  We could use technology to our advantage, but I don’t think we necessarily do.

 Now there’s another kind of technology that could influence happiness, and that’s technology that influences brain states directly.  Happiness is, of course, just something your brain is doing.  It’s an experience you have because your brain – your neurons – are in a certain dance.  It’s possible that we will have technological interventions that will enable your neurons to do that dance without having to experience something in the world that makes that happen.  Right now we have such interventions.  We have drugs; but they’re very brute, you know?  You take a happy pill, it does a whole lot more than make you feel a little better.  It changes, you know … it interferes with cognitive abilities.  It can make you dizzy.  It can make you nauseous.  It’s conceivable that in the future, we’ll have technologies that simply will increase your happiness. The question is whether we’ll want to use them.  It’s a very … I … and I’m not for it or against it, but it’s a very important decision to make.  Do we want to disassociate happiness from its usual antecedents?  Do we want people to be able to be happy without doing the things that we usually think of us as earning happiness?  It’s a great question, and one we’re definitely going to have to answer.

 

Can technology make us happy?

Newsletter: Share: