Does technology make us happy? Will newer technologies make us happier? Or are we only departing further from our true human nature with every technology we develop?
Would we live more fulfilled lives if we found back to nature, frolicking like jolly hippies or rejoicing like badass foragers? Would we have fewer mental illnesses? Do technology and civilization alienate us too much from our prehistoric roots? Or would we be miserable without the many inventions and innovations in medicine, pharmaceutics, engineering, and computing?
In short, does technological progress entail a progress in happiness? The answer is simple: no.
Technology doesn’t make us happier: it never has and never will. Nor, however, does it make us less happy. There simply is no link between technological progress and happiness.
What makes us happy and fulfilled is doing our True Will. No human advancement will change that.
Sure, someday brain hacking will give us unlimited pleasure, but that’s just happiness as a feeling. Fulfillment—joyous contentment—can exist even during pain and misery. It’s almost more of an attitude than an emotion. The emotional state of happiness is just a symptom of doing our True Will, not a goal for us to achieve.
Technologies can change what we do, what we want, and who we are. Progress can even change our True Will, but it cannot change our doing our True Will. It can’t help us do it, nor can it hinder us. It may confront us with different problems and different levels of problems, but whether and how we choose to do our True Will is always up to us. Therefore, happiness is always up to us.
If our True Will is to live more in harmony with nature and to resist the seductive powers of modern technologies, then we will experience freedom and fulfillment by moving in that direction. Not technological asceticism will make us happy—for this would just be a goal—but taking action toward that goal will.
Conversely, if our True Will is to immerse ourselves in the world of technological progress, then we will experience freedom and fulfillment by exploring all the latest gadgets and innovations. Not the technological products will make us happy—for they are just material things—but taking action to geek out our technophilia will.
Finally, if our True Will is to gladly yet warily embrace the ever-increasing artificiality of modern life, then we will experience freedom and fulfillment by practicing moderation and taking action to maintain a proper balance between the two extremes of “Back to nature!” vs. “Fuck my roots!”
In any case, our brains evolved to be flexible. Howsoever our world may change, we will always adapt and quickly bounce back to our base level of happiness, which is a function of biochemical processes, not of technological innovations.
Today we can learn and accomplish things with an efficiency that was unimaginable in earlier times. Today we can cure diseases we couldn’t cure in earlier times. Today we can communicate with people we couldn’t communicate with in earlier times. Still, these changes only affect the experiences we make, not how these experiences affect us.
Our experiences and circumstances don’t matter. What we have, can have, or cannot have doesn’t matter. What we are able, will be able, or are not able to do doesn’t matter. Only one thing matters: Are we doing our True Will or not?