Future, Happiness, Long Life

Ikigai – “The happiness of always being busy”

According to the latest World Economic Forum report, Japan* tops the list of countries with highest life expectancy (83.8 years on average.) I recently read Ikigai, a book that explores the secrets to long and happy life of the Japanese people and especially those in the village of Ōgimi that has the most longevity index in the world and has many centenarian residents. The authors put forward a wide variety of reasons explaining the extraordinary longevity. Ones that I found interesting are:

  • Immerse oneself in work and experience a state of flow in which one loses track of time
  • Finish a meal by the time one is 80% full

As Friedrich Nietzsche once said “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”, the centenarians found their purpose in work and in helping their community.  The book also discusses Logotherapy. In order to help his/her subject explore the purpose of life, the psychologist usually starts the therapy with the question “why do you not commit suicide?” We need to rely on these “organic” techniques till such time we find more efficient “inorganic” techniques. Prof. Yuval Noah Harari suggests the scientists may soon come up with procedures that change the basic bio-chemistry of the brain and help humans experience perpetual happiness. That’s perhaps one way to do away with increased violence and unrest in the machine age – a future in which the dominant are Cyborgs and the rest are happy. 🙂

*Hongkong has slightly higher average life expectancy than Japan but is not considered a country. According to CIA factbook 2017, Monaco tops the list.

Future, Inequality

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Just received Branko Milanovic’s book on Global Inequality. Looking forward to reading it, over the coming days. There are various forms of inequality economic, cultural and otherwise. Looking into the future, I do believe that in a world dominated by machines, IF the machines do manage to bring out certain egalitarianism in the human society by producing at scale and by providing equal access to resources such as food and healthcare and thereby requiring no one to work for those resources, it may result in current day economics and underlying social structure based largely on economics becoming irrelevant. It is certainly possible that such a world is pushed easily into violence and bloodshed reminiscent of the medieval times. According to the likes of Jordan Peterson, a social structure based on dominance hierarchy is fundamental to human society and its evolution. Inequality, thus in my view, is key to social structural equilibrium and is here to remain and will take new forms as times change. This is only as-a-matter-of-fact perspective and not to condone the ills of our society.