Leading Ethicist Speaks on How Technology Impacts Our Happiness and Well-Being

Posted on: 30 October 2015

The link between technology, happiness and our well-being was discussed at an exciting lecture open to the public recently in Trinity College Dublin. Focusing on how and when technology tends to improve or worsen our happiness, Dr Johnny Hartz Søraker of the Department of Philosophy, University of Twente grounded his considerations in both philosophy and empirical research. The lecture was hosted by the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology.

During his talk, Dr Søraker noted that empirical research shows most people rank themselves as being quite happy but happiness can be affected by such things as social interaction, health and financial success. Due to the pace of technological innovation and its prevalence in modern life, understanding what influences happiness can enable engineers use that knowledge to improve their designs and, by extension, better our 21st Century lives.

Speaking at the event Dr Søraker said: “Very little of our happiness is effected by something happening to us.  Intentional activities – those that we decide to do – have the most impact on our well-being.” As both work and leisure activities are increasingly intertwined with (computer) technology, it provides a way for us to exert control and therefore increase our feelings of happiness.  Using this knowledge, computer engineers can get a better understanding of how their design choices may affect the well-being of their users, as well as how a better understanding of human well-being can provide a source of innovation and creativity.

Titled Beyond Right and Wrong – Designing for Well-Being, the event forms part of the 'Ethics & Privacy relating to technology' series, which has been organised by the Ethics & Privacy Working Group of the ADAPT Centre in conjunction with Trinity’s Long Room Hub, School of Law, School of Religions, Peace Studies and Theology, Library and the DCU Institute of Ethics. 

ADAPT, the Centre for Digital Content Technology, provides a partnership between academia and industry in the field of digital content technology. Funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the centre is led out of Trinity College Dublin and combines the world-class expertise of researchers at Dublin City University, University College Dublin and Dublin Institute of Technology.