Will the new wave of AI make us happier?
The impact of Artificial Intelligence on human happiness is a key question for us all, since AI-embedded tech increasingly accompanies our every waking moment. I wrote extensively in my book You++ how AI can help you reach your desired lifestyle, and in my last LinkedIn article I portrayed a day in the life of an AI-enabled future. Now I want to focus specifically on how you might gradually incorporate AI into your life to achieve that most elusive of goals: fulfilment.
You may already have a vision of what true fulfilment looks like for you. It could be a more rewarding role in a company, it could be self-employment, more time to pursue a passion project or an entirely new set of skills. Work-life balance is vitally important; you need to find time for hobbies and proper relaxation. Logically, the first step is to find time to focus more on the things you enjoy. By reducing routine activities at home or work, or by augmenting your skills in some way, AI can dramatically boost your personal productivity. I urge you to review your daily routines and actively consider how AI might eliminate some repetitive unfulfilling activities, whether at work or domestic.
Maybe you don’t feel that you have the time to pursue a hobby as seriously as you would like? Perhaps you would love to run a marathon but can’t envisage finding the many hours per week to train and recover. Or maybe your fulfilment could be found in understanding your family history or genetic background, developing your culinary skills, learning a musical instrument, finally cultivating a garden to be proud of, or taking up a latent creative pursuit like writing or 3D-printed sculpture.
For productivity alone, AI is key is for carving out time without compromising your other obligations.
When the ‘New Normal’ Arrives
You perhaps already use AI in the form of Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri or Cortana. As the capabilities of AI bots develop, we will see more convergence of technologies. A quick trip to the Alexa skills store https://www.amazon.com/alexa-skills could give you some ideas how automation could be your friend.
An example: when Covid restrictions are lifted, pursuing an active social life with colleagues and friends will mean once again finding mutually convenient meeting places for drinks and after-work nibbles, time slots that work for everyone, etc.
Imagine having a fully integrated Calendar Bot to manage all meeting questions. You advise how you might prefer to meet the person. e.g. over drinks, dinner, in-person, via video call; when you want to meet the person, taking into account travel times, food preferences and other factors; the calendar bot then proactively assesses logistics, the myriad of preferences and moving schedules, makes the required reservations and manages any changes that come up proactively and keeping all participants updated.
Leisure and Hobbies
If an AI-enabled future will truly bring us quality of life and fulfilment, then our increased leisure time will be a major contributing factor – unless of course you genuinely prefer to spend all your time working!
Taking golf as an example, there are already apps that use AI to analyse a golf swing. https://swingindex.golf/ is one example. It has created a “swing index” that is derived from 21 aspects of a player’s golf swing. Users simply record their golf swing and receive instant feedback on where they can improve. This promises to be more accurate, objective and helpful than the advice of many golf pros – and cheaper too.
Food and cooking are always near the top of any list of common interests. AI has become a major ingredient in the culinary world to design new flavours https://www.gastrograph.com/ and there are services, such as https://www.lark.com/ that provide coaching for a better diet to help manage chronic health conditions.
Art, music and general creativity are also high on the list of popular hobbies. Why not develop these creative passions into something new? There are numerous AI apps that generate art from photos and music. https://deepart.io/ can turn your photos into paintings; if you prefer music then Google’s Magenta is worth a visit for its collection of AI-powered music-making widgets. The point is that if you are going to be creative then these technologies can help you achieve your vision or inspire you to go in unexpected and fruitful directions.
How much time do you spend on jobs at home? I fully expect robots to be developed to relieve some of these routines. We are used to robotic vacuums like the Roomba, and automated lawnmowers, but a Japanese company recently demonstrated a robot that actually tidies up children’s toys! https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/business-47913221 These devices may not yet be fully autonomous, but I suspect it will not be long coming.
Some or none of these apps may be relevant for you. The point is that whatever you do in life that includes routine, there is probably an AI app to help you – and it will probably be fun! A simple way to embrace this is when you do a Google search, do the search, then do it again putting the letters AI after the search criteria.