AI is taking over the world, or is it now? Recently (since November 2020), we have experienced a huge international growth of AI products. Now, the question on everyone’s mind is whether AI will be able to replace you at your job?
In a sense, it is already happening in some industries and it is very likely to happen in many other industries sooner rather than later (I discussed this topic in my blog post Fear of Automation in more detail).
Naturally, I, too, asked myself whether and how AI could eventually learn what happiness really is, making this blog obsolete. To answer this question, I asked AI “What is Happiness?”
I asked this question to several AIs such as OpenAI, Chat GPT, and Bard (a new AI created by Google). The results, so far, aren’t very impressive, but consistent. Here is the answer provided by Bard, which is more or less representative of what all AI tools are also saying:.
AI Answers “What is Happiness?”
Happiness is a complex emotion that has been studied by philosophers and psychologists for centuries. There is no one definition of happiness that everyone agrees on, but it is generally understood to be a state of well-being that is characterized by positive emotions such as joy, contentment, and satisfaction. Happiness can be fleeting or long-lasting, and it can be experienced in different ways by different people.
Some people believe that happiness is a goal that can be achieved through certain behaviors or activities, such as spending time with loved ones, pursuing hobbies, or helping others. Others believe that happiness is more of a state of mind that is influenced by factors such as genetics, personality, and life circumstances.
There is no right or wrong answer to the question of what happiness is. Ultimately, it is up to each individual to define what happiness means to them and to find ways to cultivate it in their own lives.
Here are some things that may contribute to happiness:
- Positive relationships: Having strong, supportive relationships with family and friends is one of the most important factors in happiness.
- Meaning and purpose: Having a sense of meaning and purpose in life can help people feel more fulfilled and satisfied.
- Positive emotions: Experiencing positive emotions such as joy, gratitude, and love can boost happiness levels.
- Engaging in activities that you enjoy: Doing things that you find pleasurable can help you feel more content and happy.
- Helping others: Helping others can make you feel good and give your life a sense of meaning.
- Practicing gratitude: Taking time to appreciate the good things in your life can help you focus on the positive and boost your happiness levels.
It is important to remember that happiness is not a destination, but rather a journey. It is something that you can cultivate and nurture over time. By focusing on the positive aspects of your life and engaging in activities that make you happy, you can increase your happiness levels and create a more fulfilling life.
AI Doesn’t Understand Happiness
Certainly, AI did not do a bad job, but it did not provide a perfect answer either. Let’s review its answer step by step.
First, AI offered a very generic answer, such as saying that “happiness is a complex emotion that has been studied by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.”
Now, AI makes a common mistake by saying that there is “no one definition of happiness that everyone agrees on,” which I contradict in my article called The Definition of Happiness.
The next mistake AI makes is by saying “happiness can be fleeting or long-lasting, and it can be experienced in different ways by different people.” This is a mistake because while most people think of happiness as “fleeting,” it is not necessarily so – see my article Happiness is NOT Evasive.
Furthermore, AI does not seem to understand that happiness comes in different levels of intensity on a positive scale, meaning that all positive emotions are happiness. This is a very basic and seemingly seamless distinction, which can make a big difference especially if people don’t understand this (see again The Definition of Happiness).
The next passage is completely wrong “There is no right or wrong answer to the question of what happiness is. Ultimately, it is up to each individual to define what happiness means to them and to find ways to cultivate it in their own lives.”
This is because according to The Definition of Happiness, there is absolutely a right and wrong way to becoming happy. Certain actions lead respectively to happiness or unhappiness, so yes, there are “right or wrong answers to the question of what happiness is.”
Lastly, AI’s statement that “here are some things that MAY contribute to happiness” suggests that it has no real understanding of what happiness is. I mean, it “MAY contribute to happiness”??? In my book Optimal Happiness, I say that everything can be correlated with happiness and unhappiness. It is only a question of degree. So yes, there are things that correlate with happiness more than others, but generally speaking, everything “may contribute to happiness” or unhappiness.
Future of Happiness and AI
I believe that there is too much unhappiness in the world today, and so if AI could learn to understand what happiness is, it could help us create a better world. However, we have to wait and hope that it won’t lead to the destruction of the world, as Elon Musk fears it will.
To further understand how well AI comprehends happiness and human emotions, I asked it the question “What is happiness?” My conclusion so far is ‘No.’ AI still has a long road ahead of it to improve in this domain.
It is understandable that it is hard for AI to comprehend the irrationality of human emotion, as it is a logic-based computer. We must remember that emotions are what make us human, and so if AI were to ever gain the ability to understand our feelings, it might become sentient, which could lead to a worst-case scenario, where it decides to optimize us by eliminating our imperfections.
However, it is important to note that happiness is a complex topic and AI is still learning. Unlike accounting, mathematics, investments, etc., the subject of happiness is still a niche knowledge (very few people know it on a deep level) and AI only knows answers based on general knowledge, which is often negative, as most people are still unhappy. And it is from this negative knowledge that AI is primarily taking its information.
In the future, I hope that human happiness will become one AIs top priorities, as happiness is the #1 goal of human existence. In an ideal world, AI would optimize our lives around this goal, which could lead to a utopia that we all desire.