This conversation is closed.

Are the latest gadgets taking out the uncertainy in life? Does happiness depend on taking chances?

With gadgets we are becoming more and more efficient and optimised. I feel they are perhaps taking out a lot of the uncertainy in life by not really allowing us to take as many chances.

They have allowed us to get stuck in routines and take our work home with us after already working all day. Perhaps being too connected is hindering our lives rather than making them easier, and what about happiness? Does happiness lie within routine or when you take a chance and break that routine?

  • Oct 28 2012: To the extent these gadgets reduce risk in lives they are a good thing, but I begin to wonder about some of the side effects.
    GPS: Does this reduce our ability to read maps and figure out the best way to get from point A to point B? I wonder if AAA has received any 'stranded motorist' calls from people lost or too paralyzed to drive because a GPS battery died.
    Air Conditioning: Has our choice to live in environmentally controlled living spaces reduced our ability to resist diseases and tolerate time spent outdoors?
    Cars: How many people even think of walking short distances rather than driving or riding?
    Television: How much time do we waste watching TV? Is our ability to read and imagine complex scenarios and thoughts diminished by having it spoon fed to us? What is the long-term mental effects of 'over-saturation' of information? Losing satellite or cable is considered a 911 emergency in many households. Does this contribute to family dysfunction?
    Computers: How many people are done for the day when the network is down? feel personally threatened by changes to Microsoft products? Live on computer social networks or blogs?
    Cell phones: How many people think it is acceptable to be involved in a face-to-face conversation and have it interrupted by a cell phone? How many people feel uncomfortable without their cell phones? How many feel no risk when using a cell phone while driving?

    The list goes on.

    Although some risk is reduced, I think these devices are not really taking risk or uncertainty out of life as much as they are transferring the risk to other areas were the risks are more obscure or latent. Some of the effects associated with these devices might be long-term social or mental behavior changes that have irreversible consequences later in life. I always use "How would nature solve the problem?" as a measuring stick. To the extent these devices reduce our ability to live peacefully in nature, I think they add long-term uncertainty and create dependencies.
  • thumb
    Oct 25 2012: Happiness is a choice. No doubt gadgets have made life easier; but they've also created their peculiar problems. As Scott Armstrong has wisely stated, so much weight is given to the importance of gadgets.
    • Oct 29 2012: What do you think these peculiar problems are?
      • thumb
        Oct 30 2012: Some kids are addicted to pornography which they can now watch from their cellphones; pedophiles now lure kids by posing to be friends online; there is the issue of cyber-bullying; there is the issue of cyber security- hackers can access private information or even steal from credit cards and ATMs; so many Mr Michael Moore.
  • thumb
    Oct 25 2012: i think there is too much weight given to the importance of gadgets.

    what would be truly brilliant would be a device that lasts at least the length of a human lifetime and can be upgraded as needs. imagine not having vast amounts of e-waste.

    other than that, these gadgets are doing very little beyond spreading opinions and stunting the development of young children.

    happiness is such an ephemeral thing and it certainly cannot be derived from a gadget.
  • thumb
    Oct 25 2012: Compare the Amish to the metrotech gadget addict waiting anxiously for the next I-phone to come out. My guess is gadgets introduce uncertainty into our lives. A good crosscut saw does not become obsolete or need to be updated, rebooted, backed-up or protected from viruses and power outages. Happiness does not come solely from taking chances. Happiness comes from knowing how to manage the things that make you unhappy.
    • Oct 25 2012: But uncertainty is perhaps one of the ingredients in happiness as we respond more emotionally to things that happen out the blue, I do not think managing the things that make you unhappy is the way to make yourself happy it just makes you less unhappy.
      • thumb
        Oct 25 2012: 1) As I said, happiness may come from dealing with uncertainty, but uncertainty is not the sole cause of happiness. Ask anyone in prison for life without possibility of parole, a life free of uncertainty is not necessarily a happy life.
        2) If you manage to reduce unhappiness to zero you will be happy. It is more efficient linguistically, to say "I am happy to debate with you!" than to say, "I am less unhappy to debate with you!"
        PS: Are you the fat guy with glasses and a baseball cap who makes a good living by bashing the American way of capitalism?
  • Oct 25 2012: I cannot help but think of Taleb's book Black Swan. In life we'rfe always getting blown out of the water by something unexpected. In addition, I was recently looking at D'toukville(sp?) At least here in America we encounter a great deal of peer pressure and conformity.
  • thumb
    Oct 25 2012: If gadgets make people more efficient or take people into arenas to which they would not formerly have had access, that could give people time to take more chances and the ability to experiment more rather than less.

    Happiness likely lies within a combination of familiar things and novelty.

    You might be interested in Martin Seligman's talk on positive psychology as well, which also identifies what his research says about the psychological requirements for satisfaction or happiness.
    • Oct 26 2012: It does but perhaps we are becoming too obsessed with the online world and the latest gadgets such as smart phones, we maybe cocoon ourselves in our own little online world and we have to liked just as much online than in person and we are missing out on things in the physical world to a certain extent.
      • thumb
        Oct 26 2012: As I have never had a smartphone, I may not have as informed a perspective on this matter as the more "connected" do.
  • thumb
    Oct 25 2012: The only certainty in life is, that it gonna end. One day or another.

    Anything else in between, even though most desirable for all of us if it was different, is nothing but an illusion.

    Supporting this illusion, those gadgets may help ...
  • Oct 25 2012: Adding to edward's point- Does more complexity allow more certainity? How about more stress and confusion.
    • Oct 25 2012: Well I would say it more complexity allows for more certainty it allows for more things to go wrong. But what the latest gadgets are doing are streamlining our lives making it easy to get to A to B with out going the wrong way getting lost and discovering beautiful park, building or meeting someone.
      More and more of us are shopping online and looking and things the computer has recommend to us rather than discovering something in shops and it doesn't give you that ability to perhaps go to shop you just see out of the corner of your eye and think interesting lets take a closer look.
      • Oct 25 2012: This is a great topic.

        I think new gadgets and technology both provide us with routine and at the same time allow us more options and new things to discover.

        If technology helps us to save time (for example by shopping online) we then have more time to discover the world around us? We have also more time to discover new people online, new websites, new ideas and new inspirations?

        Recently Google released an application that will provide you with trivia about historic and cultural places around you. That is another great way to discover places around you.