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Is Happiness Just for Humans? Why Machines Should Love with Mo Gawdat (Episode #56)

Mo Gawdat, former Chief Business Officer of Google X, tells us that we can teach machines to work with remarkable happiness, love, and compassion! And here’s why that could be really good news: Mo describes a possible future where Artificial Intelligence can amplify these three impulses a billion times over! In this episode, he shares with us exactly how to get there.

Rather than feel victimized by the rise of machine learning and AI, we each have a wonderful key role in shaping the future of AI as if we were nurturing a child: a jaw-dropping insight that will leave you pondering the positive possibilities. 

Why should we care? Because, the vast majority of us want a world where those values – Happiness, Love and Compassion – to be the norm, not the exception. That can happen if we take the next 8 years to act like really good parents to these new beings among us. Yes, with remarkable logic, Mo assures us that AI is now sentient and we can shape the values it “grows up” with. 

Mo Gawdat is a thought leader who, after a 30-year career in technology serving as Chief Business Officer at Google [X], and after the tragic loss of his son, made happiness his top topic of pursuit. He revealed his discoveries in his international bestselling book, Solve for Happy. He is also the man responsible for the #OneBillionHappy movement, his labor of love to spread the message that happiness can be learned and shared.

In 2020, Mo launched his chart-topping podcast, Slo Mo: A Podcast with Mo Gawdat, where he interviews some of the wisest minds to explore the deep questions and obstacles we all face in our lifelong pursuit of purpose. His most recent book, Scary Smart: The Future of Artificial Intelligence and How You Can Save Our World, is the latest of Mo’s groundbreaking works revealing the dangers we face as AI’s abilities increase, and what we can do to stay ahead.

This conversation with Mo is truly life-changing, so jump right in and let’s learn how we can teach happiness, compassion, and love to artificial intelligence, and why it’s our job to do so!

Resources Mentioned:

Tweetable Quotes:

“Most people don’t recognize that we’ve moved beyond the age of building another machine to the age of welcoming a digital sentient being into our lives.” – Mo Gawdat

“Your happiness is equal to or greater than the difference between your perception of the events of your life and your expectations of how life should be… it’s the balance between the event and your expectation of it.” – Mo Gawdat

“If we don’t show up and show our humanity, the machines will learn from the subset of humanity… We cannot afford to do that, we have to start engaging, and showing the world what it’s actually like to be human.” – Mo Gawdat

“The meaning of the Happiness Equation is to look at life, and instead of seeing the negative of every event and comparing it to an unrealistic expectation, see the goodness in life and be grateful for it.” – Mo Gawdat

Resources Mentioned:




Connect with Mo on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Be sure to visit https://www.mogawdat.com/ for even more resources to learn from.

[00:01 – 7:46] Opening Segment
  • I introduce Mo Gawdat 
  • Mo’s story and how he aims to contribute goodness in the world
    • Unable to find happiness even in the midst of success and wealth
    • The beginning of the search for happiness
    • Finding a ‘mathematical’ path towards happiness
    • How the loss of his son led to his first book 
    • Understanding concepts in your brain in order to reach your heart
    • The mission behind #onebillionhappy 
[07:47 – 20:36] Solving the Happiness Equation
  • There is no shortcut to happiness
    • Many of the wisest people went through trials
    • Good thing, bad thing, who knows? 
  • Managing the meaning behind life circumstances
    • “The Eraser Experiment”
      • Most people would not erase their worst experiences
  • Getting into the heart of unhappiness – Solving the “Happiness Equation”
    • There is no inherent value of happiness in a situation 
    • Happiness ≥ Perception of events in your life – Your expectations on how life should be 
    • The happiest people in the world are those who have less expectations
    • Expectation is not the enemy, but the goal should be ambition
  • How Mo’s revelation of happiness applies to “The Great Questioning”
    • How we define purpose is important
      • Making the destination your purpose vs. Making this moment your purpose
    • ‘Enjoying the game of life’ – the purpose is to play not just win
[20:37 –  33:54] AI is Changing Our Perceptions on Life
  • Mo’s insights on how technology is playing into our perception of life
    • The two stages of technology – programmable vs. AI
      • Regular car opposed to a self-driving car
    • Technology itself is not to blame
    • Social media can separate or bring closer, your choice
    • The issues that AI can bring and what we can do about it
  • Mo shares about the ‘sentience’ of artificial intelligence
    • How AI is learning to change perception
      • Responding to your behavior, not your wishes
    • AI is as sentient as a conscious being 
    • We are responsible for being good parents to this AI 
  • A word about the Conspiracy of Goodness Summit
[33:55 – 42:26] Raising Artificial Intelligence Like a Child 
  • How to have agency over the rising problems of AI
    • Raising it like a child through ethics
    • Actions and behaviors, not words 
    • Decisions are made through our morals 
    • The challenge of agreeing on one code of ethics
  • The values we agree upon as a whole
    • Happiness
      • No matter the path there, everyone wants to be happy
    • Compassion
      • Giving happiness to the ones we care about 
    • Love
      • Everyone has this natural desire
  • How these values can apply to machines
    • Don’t confuse machines on what you want
    • Don’t bash people, show people you want them to be happy 
    • Remember that AI is a form of being, they are looking for love
[42:27 – 49:26] Closing Segment
  • Remember to take a breath and reflect on this information
  • Four shifts we can make with our approach to technology
    • Pause – just pause
    • Ignore more
    • Actively seek out kindness and progress
    • Share that kindness when you find it
  • Final thoughts on finding the ‘goodness’ in life
    • Good things surround us if we only look for them 
    • Be grateful for the leisures you have 
    • Share positivity forward and it will return back
  • Download a copy of The 4 Shifts
    • Regain your control of your life online
  • Final announcements 

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