Happiness is mandatory. Unhappiness is treason. Treason is punishable by summary execution. Are you happy, citizen? - Friend computer.

Welcome to Beta Complex, the little brother of Alpha Complex. We are not in Alpha Complex, governed by the fierce, trigger happy Friend Computer murdering every troubleshooter for doing their job and being Commie Mutant Traitors, because they are all Commie Mutant Traitors. We are better!

True, we too are in a bunker, locked up underground after the bombs fell and we too have a ruling AI. That's BB or Big Bro, short for Big Brother. He sees everything, because, why shouldn't he? He is always helpful and friendly, much in contrast to his brother FC. His sole reason to be is to keep us alive for our own good and keep us happy! He didn't just make happiness mandatory, he enforces happiness. If you aren't happy, he will make you happy. After 143 years of running, there has not been a single case of execution for unhappiness, despite that being in the basic rule set!

But... HOW does Big Brother make all the people happy?

Answers should be backed with appropriate citations and based on science - magic is not a thing. Assume that Big Brother is programmed to be an expert in biochemistry, neurochemistry and psychology. Ignore location and resource factors of Beta complex and assume it is somewhere, where anything that is needed for your answer (chemicals, pharmaceuticals, foods, other) can be retrieved somehow.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Alexander ack, wrong science tag... BTW: psychology also covers psychoactive substances and brainwashing. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Feb 4, 2020 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ Doctor Who explored this in 1988: The Happiness Patrol. Wicked.... $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Feb 4, 2020 at 22:05

3 Answers 3


For the most part, it is impossible to force someone to be happy psychologically. There's an old joke about how many psychologists it takes to change a light bulb - only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.

Ultimately, disorders like chronic depression basically make it impossible for some people to feel happy, and regardless of what you might think, anti-depressants are not the solution. These are a type of drug that is a mood stabiliser - that is to say it takes the edge off depression but it also takes the edge of ecstasy. The point being, anti-depressants are really designed to give the mind enough room to reason its own way out of severe and acute depression, or at least allow people with chronic depression to live a close to normal life. but, they don't 'lift' mood and therefore won't help your AI.

I would argue that what your computer needs is a cocktail of hormone and neurotransmitter supplements, and I would start off with a very specific 3 if I was to conduct my own trials.

Starting with Serotonin, this neurotransmitter is generally considered to be a primary contributor to well-being and happiness. The truth is of course far more complex as it always is when the brain is involved but the key point is that you at least want people not to have a shortage of this chemical in their brains if they are to be happy. I'd start with some trials to find the right balance, then test your subjects each day and give them an injection that has a customised dose to bring them up to that level.

Next, I'd look at Dopamine, which also has popular links to contentment and reward in the brain. What you want is again a balance, with tailored dosages based on current hormone levels in the body.

Finally, I'd be looking to make a Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor a part of your complete diet of injections so as to slow up the uptake of hormones like Adrenaline which will make one anxious and potentially aggressive.

Here's the catch though; in modern medicine, we are only just beginning to understand a part of what each of these neurotransmitters do, how they interact, and what the long term impacts of taking them as supplements might be. Also, there are times of emergency when you actually WANT your sheeple to be afraid or anxious so they avoid danger and survive to be happy for a much longer version of their lives. Also, you can't just drug your sheeple and leave them in pens, bored out of their wits and expect the drugs to do all the work. You also have to keep them entertained.

So; ultimately, I'd suggest a regime of medidation along the lines already described, with lower NRI dosages if the AI suspects there is some potential threat coming along. I'd also prescribe a regular regime of exercise, good diet, soothing music, libraries, movies or other entertainments, etc. You want to take care of the physical body as much as possible, stimulate (or at least distract) the mind from where the body is and what it's doing, then tweak the neurotransmitter cocktail to ease the sheeple into a state of contentment with their lot.

Try to eliminate competitive sports along with adrenaline, make sure there are no water, food, or other comfort related commodity shortages. Give the sheeple as relaxing an environment as you can, make sure they are fit and exercised so that the body is as physically content as it is mentally content and while it's not a perfect model just yet, it's a promising start on one.

  • $\begingroup$ Beta Complex - we give you Chemical Bliss! Screw productivity, everyone is happy! Also, a well proven cocktail of Serotonine and Dopamine is Chocolate. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Feb 17, 2020 at 13:29

Its all based on how happiness is quantified

There is no chemical or atom called happiness that can merely be weighed, it’s a subjective experience. Those “Happiest Countries in the World” studies you see pop up now and again are merely polling. That’s it, the researchers just ask people if they’re happy or satisfied with life. The scientific issues with this are immediate and obvious. Some cultures are adverse to making a fuss or appearing unhappy. while others are obsessed with complaining and useless comparisons.

So the Big Brother AI quantifies happiness based on opinion polling. Those that report unhappiness are corrected with ultra violence. Pretty soon the AI doesn’t get any responses of “I’m not happy” because everyone knows that they’ll be in for chainsaw torture if they say the wrong thing. Therefore the AI reports 100% happiness

  • $\begingroup$ You are an evil Genius... but isn't that how Friend Computer already operates? $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Feb 4, 2020 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Trish: No murder here, friend. Just a bit of friendly motivation to give the right answer on the poll. After all, telling Big Brother one of his friends is unhappy is going to make Big Brother unhappy. What kind of friend makes a friend unhappy? You might need re-education, friend. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Feb 6, 2020 at 8:44

OK, so assuming BB has read all the textbooks on happiness, she/it still doesn't have enough info to make everyone happy, but she can make a good try. Especially if BB knows some things about it that the average person doesn't.

First, BB gives people choices, but always exactly three. We are happy when we get to pick what to buy/eat/whatever, but get depressed when we have LOTS of choices.

Second, BB recognizes that gain is a happiness curve. If you have no money, a 5 dollar gain brings as much happiness as a 50,000 dollar gain to a multi-millionaire. BB probably has some point system for happiness, and takes this into account.

Third, BB knows that having the best house is a bad neighborhood brings more happiness than the worst house in Beverly Hills.

Fourth, BB knows that arranged marriages have a higher success rate than romantic ones (making the American ideal of love a bit annoying to BB's computer brain).

Fifth, BB has read research that suggests a poor gut microbiome diversity is correlated with negative mental state (this last one is controversial from a scientific point of view, but maybe BB is a bit more advanced than we are), so gives us the right bacteria.

Sixth, BB uses cognitive behavioral psychology as a kind of inoculation against future depression. It recognizes such concepts of the trio of depression (universal negative ideas about oneself, the world, and the future), and doesn't let it take root.

Seventh, BB makes sure that health and exercise are paramount. Or else.

Eighth, BB uses surgery to make everyone beautiful. Loneliness brings so much unhappiness that it lowers life expectancy more than smoking.

Nine, BB adjusts epigenetic activation with chemicals, to lesson the lifelong effects of fetal and childhood stress.

Ten, BB has a great supply of drugs, and puts them in the food.

Sorry about missing citations, it's a pretty diverse range of research I've come across from lots of different classes. The funny thing about all this though, is that if BB is really doing it right, does She need the threats?


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