Author Topic: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?  (Read 6451 times)

koshtra

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #150 on: August 31, 2017, 12:15:32 PM »
Really you need a definition of "happiness" to get very far with this. Most people who think very hard about it end up splitting the concept up between one that means "gratification and avoidance of pain" -- which we've mostly been talking about here -- and "a sense that life is meaningful and that you are in the right place doing the right thing."

When your happiness (sense 1) goes up or down, the mid-point of the gauge follows it, remarkably quickly. I'm not sure that the present population of the United States is "happier" than, say, the population of medieval England -- to judge by the suicide statistics, I'd guess not.

But happiness (sense 2) is more stable, and builds on itself. If your life feels like it's the right one, five years later your happiness (in that sense) will feel deeper and more dependable.

So -- focusing on happiness (sense 2) I'd say the two inventions that have contributed most to that are, first, the scientific method, since the better you understand the world the better you can find your right place in it,  and, second, meditation (or contemplation, or or whatever they call in in your neck of the woods), since the better you understand yourself, the better you can move yourself to that right place.

electriceagle

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #151 on: September 16, 2017, 01:34:23 AM »
The sanitary sewer.

Seconded (thirded? fourthed?). More generally, sanitation. Everybody is happer without dysentery.

simonsez

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #152 on: September 18, 2017, 03:54:42 PM »
Every time someone puts "scientific method" I get this image of a framed poster detailing the scientific method in a hallway in a house that gets walked by frequently where the owner always winks or salutes or just bursts into a big smile.

In the grandiose philosophical choice (where scientific method resides), I'd go with either writing or higher education.  No society had settled into the modern low fertility/low mortality pattern until enough individuals could write or use their higher education to invent things that made death less likely (mortality rate drop).  With death less likely and with more inventions to purchase/consume, you didn't need as many humans gobbling up increasingly expensive resources and women as a result had fewer children.  In other words, the demographic transition that allows such high proportions of our lives to be spent on leisure was brought about by writing/higher education (by many things in reality but I think this is the big one, watch an underprivileged country/area enable women easier access to higher education and watch what happens over the next 10-20 years).

For the more tangible inventions, I think of 2 main categories:
-inventions that heighten/enhance or make basic human functions a reality/tolerable/more fair e.g. enchroma glasses for those with total color blindness, Viagra, vibrator, RU-486, morphine, alcohol, toilet paper, light bulb, etc.
-inventions that increase our ability to recreate e.g. violin, football, tennis shoes, paintbrush, hydration pack, roller coaster, deck of cards

Roboturner

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #153 on: September 18, 2017, 04:01:00 PM »
The internet is probably the single most important invention after basic living conditions are established
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Rubic

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Re: Which man-made invention has most increased the happiness of Humanity?
« Reply #154 on: September 19, 2017, 06:34:15 AM »
The internet is probably the single most important invention after basic living conditions are established

 Ha-Joon Chang says the washing machine revolutionised society in more profound ways that the internet:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/aug/29/my-bright-idea-ha-joon-chang