TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Technology is making life simpler and allowing people more time for other things. But, do people know what to do with that time?

This is a perennial question around Technology and science advancement. Are we making people dull? Do they really know what to do with the time that technology provides? Where is the society movement to bring purpose into the lives of people who suddenly have free time to think about this thanks to technology?

I haven't found an answer to this question. Particularly to how we as technology providers can at the same time give a complimentary course of action for the free time and enhance the overall quality of life, not only with simplicity and time provision but also with a higher purpose for the newly found space to be filled.

I think without solving this technology is a one way street not a dialogue that might leave people and society at large to hollow to design its own next best form in the future.

Thanks for your contribution to solve this little puzzle in my head!


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Aug 16 2012: First of all, where does this need for this 'higher purpose' come from, which we were to cast in any our 'extra free time'?

    Take cats, for example. Due to their efficiency in hunting (pet cats excluded), they are able to sleep most of the day, even most of their lifes and they seem pretty satisfied with it.

    So if technology enables us to gain 'extra time' why shouldn't we be able to use it as we wish, without being accused of getting 'dull' by it?

    I actually wish we would finally start to use our technology to gain more free time, yet instead we are using it to get even more done in less time.

    Didn't you notice that technologised societies are decreasing the amount of free time which get experienced as such?

    Since the industrial revolution the hamster-wheel is speeding up faster and faster each year to a point where we could already ask ourselfs how we would even manage our days without all of our dish- and washing machines, cars and pre-cooked food.

    So where has all this time gone? Are we really wasting it in front of our TV's and computer monitors or is it just a recreational reaction of a more and more stressful professional life?

    As time has become money, and money makes us keep going, I would appreciate more free time for all of us, spinning the wheel...
    • thumb
      Aug 17 2012: Hi Lejan, interesting argument. I guess the question would be about conscious choice, rather than just spinning the wheel without a clear direction of where that leads us. You can say is money, but generally speaking, after one has the minimum covered, $ does not provide a purpose fix into someone’s life, is too exterior driven. Thinking intrinsic, and different from many other species, there is an argument to say that we seem to seek this higher purpose as a form of natural selection, where purpose abides a group, keep it together, and make it conquer higher spheres in a much more efficient way than an individual would do, all with the side effect of making the individual grow and filled with meaning in the process. So, in the end I agree we should be looking forward to the free time, however still not clear we are using it or is the free time using us?
      • thumb
        Aug 17 2012: I think I understand your noble idea about the 'higher purpose' and I do see people striving for and, at times, even achieving it. May this be in their free time, at work, or were one becomes the other. So I agree on the fact that this urge exists and I consider this one among the most valuable sides of humanity.

        Yet unfortunately I do not share the optimism in your argument the moment I take one step back to see this our planet as a whole and in the 'big picture'.

        3.5 billion years of evolution of our species, sexillions of hours time to spent to conquer those 'higher spheres', throughout millennia, centuries, decades of civilisation leading to this very current and final result of: T H A T ?

        No doubt we could have done better. So the question to me rather is: Why didn't we?

        So if free time was using us, it seems it doesn't care about improving things. And if we were using our free time, it seems the same...

        In an ironic or sarcastic view almost all technological advancements we made have been boosted by military applications or by national pride, which, for some reason, does not really match my understanding of some 'higher purpose'.

        So as technology as well as time does not seem to solve our 'world problems' we may better use our time to seek for that what would...

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.