Can AI make me happier?

Artificial intelligence is often talked about negatively – but what about the benefits? From sleep to fitness to staying organised, we tested it out

A man sitting in a chair holding a cigarette and a laptop
A man sitting in a chair holding a cigarette and a laptop

Artificial intelligence is often talked about negatively – but what about the benefits? From sleep to fitness to staying organised, we tested it out

By Jack Ramage04 Mar 2024
6 mins read time
6 mins read time

Hey, ChatGPT. I'm not feeling great today... what’s up?

I'm sorry to hear that you’re not feeling great today,” the chatbot responds. “If you'd like to talk about what's bothering you or if there’s anything specific on your mind, feel free to share. Whether it's stress, worries, or anything else, I'm here to listen and offer support however I can.

Freaky, isn’t it? We’ve reached a point in human development where you can pour out your frustrations to an AI chatbot, only to receive a tailored response from the algorithm that often feels more genuine than advice from my former college guidance counsellor.

Artificial intelligence has stirred significant debate in society, from concerns about its impact on jobs in fields ranging from art to law, to more speculative ideas about AI potentially becoming our omnipotent overlords. While the future trajectory of this technology remains uncertain, one thing is clear: AI is here to stay and has already permeated many aspects of our lives.

Despite much of the media attention focusing on the negative aspects of AI (case in point: the nightmarish AI-generated Willy Wonka experience in Glasgow), there’s a silver lining to this technology as well: from benefits such as shortening NHS waiting times to enhancing productivity in various industries.

But I’m keen to delve deeper, down into the more philosophical stuff… Can AI make us happier, more fulfilled and, ultimately, feel good?

“If we look at AI technology designed to improve people’s wellbeing, then the key question is perhaps not if AI can make everyone happier, but who might profit from such an AI-enhanced application,” says Dr Andreas Kappes, a lecturer in Psychology at City, University of London.

A recent study conducted on students in the UK revealed that an AI-powered chatbot provided valuable social support and improved wellbeing for those experiencing loneliness. However, as Dr Kappes points out, relying on AI to replace existing social relationships has the potential to cause more harm than good.

With this in mind, it’s important to not solely rely on AI if you’re looking to feel better. If you’re feeling shit, talk to a friend, a family member, a therapist, or use the many free helplines that are there for you. But still, with all the commotion AI has caused, it’s got to have its benefits… Right?

I’m keen to put this to the test. So here’s a study of my own – granted, an unscientifically backed and purely anecdotal one – so I can see whether AI really can make me feel good.

Can AI help me unwind and get a good night’s sleep?

My ping-pong-esque brain has always struggled with switching off, especially at night. To help me with this, I opted for Headspace. You probably know about this mindful-marketed app already; it's quite big. If not, listen to this clip featuring Andy Puddicombe’s silky smooth voice, who also appears in many of their ads. It should jog your memory.

Headspace uses machine learning algorithms to personalise your mindfulness experience. It supposedly takes into mind various factors: your engagement with different meditations, the frequency of meditation sessions, user feedback, and more, to tailor the experience to your preferences and needs. To be honest with you, I didn’t notice the artificial intelligence at play – but that might be the whole point. What I can tell you, though, is that this app works (for me, at least).

Within a week of engaging in the app’s meditation sessions, I felt more centred in my surroundings, and my mind was noticeably calmer. The ‘sleep’ feature helped me feel more rested, too.

Another honourable mention would be This clever app combines the power of artificial intelligence with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), helping those who deal with sleeping with disorders such as insomnia. I don’t have insomnia, so I can’t vouch for this personally – but if you do, it might be the one for you.

Can AI help me improve my diet and fitness?

I’m not afraid to admit it: I don’t love my body. I’ve never particularly focused too much on it, but, equally, I don’t stare in the mirror in awe. ‘Skinny-fat’ is probably the term testosterone-fuelled gym influencers would use. Either way, I’m keen to test how AI apps can aid my workout routine – something I’ve always struggled with – and, ultimately, get in better shape.

Fitbod and MyFitnessPal were my weapons of choice. The former works as your digital personal trainer, creating workout plans based on your goals, fitness level, and available equipment. The latter is a nutrition app that uses AI to track your food intake, count calories, and provide personalised meal recommendations. It also offers a barcode scanner to easily log food items.

And both apps really helped. Fitbod offered insightful graphics that aided in improving my lifting form, while MyFitnessPal provided a comprehensive and user-friendly overview of my nutrition. However, I view these AI-driven apps more as shortcuts rather than tools that taught me anything groundbreaking. A lot of this information can be easily found on the internet. That said, after a week of use, I felt better than I did before – so they have my seal of approval.

“Need to write a formal-sounding email to your landlord but don’t want to expend the mental energy to muster up words like ‘serendipitous’? ChatGPT has you covered”

Can AI help me do all the boring stuff?

That leads me to my next question: can artificial intelligence help me with the boring everyday things in life? Think: emails, invoices, taxes… For this, we return to our old friend, ChatGPT. Although I don’t recommend relying on this chatbot to carry out all your tasks, it can help with the really mind-numbing stuff.

Need to write a formal-sounding email to your landlord but don’t want to expend the mental energy to muster up words like ‘serendipitous’? ChatGPT has you covered. Some might find this unethical, to which I reply: landlords already take a significant portion of your salary for essentially sitting around and doing nothing. Do they deserve any more of your mental energy?

Another cool find is Phind. Aside from its clever name, this AI chatbot is essentially ChatGPT with the ability to search on Google. Although it’s designed with coders in mind, it can be used to search for pretty much any query – and includes the sources where it got that information. In a pub quiz? Boom, there’s your answer (we’d never condone cheating, of course). Looking for additional sources of inspiration for your university work? It’s got you covered for that too. Remember to avoid plagiarism, though.

The takeaway message

While AI doesn't guarantee happiness, there’s something to be said for using tools that harness the power of algorithms and machine learning. Within my week of using these apps, I found myself feeling more active, well-rested, more mindful, healthier and happier. An overall win, for sure.

It’s really a balancing act. While AI can be beneficial for our happiness, it’s also important to not become too reliant on this technology. “AI can offer advice and direction but might not be able to articulate why… It can’t tell you why and how it came up with its advice or predictions,” Dr Kappes concludes.