Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

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Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby vinodh » Thu May 09, 2013 9:07 pm

Hi All,

Time for another "futuristic" topic !

Based on the responses to the previous thread "Cryogenic preservation & Rebirth", I thought I would share some of my opinions.

I believe in abiogenesis & evolution. So when the life originally started from basic organic compounds, there was no "sentience". I suppose, they were just self-replicating organic molecules. But somewhere, along the line "sentience" evolved, and beings now could be "reborn" as organisms on Earth.

Along the same line, I would assume if suppose AI/robots develop sentience, the first such sentient "being" would be probably a rebirth of some other being.

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yo dharmaṁ paśyati, sa buddhaṁ paśyati

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na pudgalo na ca skandhā buddho jñānamanāsravam
sadāśāntiṁ vibhāvitvā gacchāmi śaraṇaṁ hyaham

Neither a person nor the aggregates, the Buddha, is knowledge free from [evil] outflows
Clearly perceiving [him] to be eternally serene, I go for refuge [in him]
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby shel » Thu May 09, 2013 9:45 pm

In a popular scifi series about sentient machines the artificial humans minds are constantly being 'backed-up' (wirelessly or non-materially :quoteunquote: ) to a storage facility. When the machines are killed they are reborn with new bodies and their stored minds in a rebirth facility. In this scenario Buddhist rebirth would seem to be superfluous. In the very least it complicates matters! :tongue:
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby Astus » Thu May 09, 2013 10:58 pm

Vinodh,

As I see it, true AI is not possible. Programming is based on mathematical principles, however, intelligence is not bound by such rules of logic.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
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This face, the face at birth."

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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby Wayfarer » Thu May 09, 2013 11:16 pm

Vinodh wrote: I suppose, they were just self-replicating organic molecules. But somewhere, along the line "sentience" evolved, and beings now could be "reborn" as organisms on Earth.


It is a difficult question for Buddhists, because I don't think a Buddhist wants to side with either the materialist view, which is basically nihilistic, or the religious apologists for the Biblical origins myth.

But I can't go along with the idea that sentience evolved from non-life. I believe 'life comes from life'. At this time, I don't think the origin of life is known, and the supposition that it is something that can, in principle, be explained in terms of physics and chemistry, is materialism pure and simple. It doesn't so much explain the question as dismiss it and besides has many negative consequences in terms of giving rise to nihilist views (which are very common in modern society).

I noted that in his discussion of the Brahmajala Sutta, Bikkhu Bodhi remarks that, ‘[the view that life originates fortuitously] has become the dominant outlook of the present-day materialist, which he takes to be the dictum conclusively proven by modern science’. [Bodhi, B. (1978). The All Embracing Net of Views. Kandy, Buddhist Publication Society, p27.]

There is a relevant passage in a recent statement by the Dalai Lama on the nature of re-birth. The reason it is relevant is because of what it says about 'the nature of mind' - that mind cannot be understood as something that emerges from matter or can be explained in material terms.

There are many different logical arguments given in the words of the Buddha and subsequent commentaries to prove the existence of past and future lives. In brief, they come down to four points: the logic that things are preceded by things of a similar type, the logic that things are preceded by a substantial cause, the logic that the mind has gained familiarity with things in the past, and the logic of having gained experience of things in the past.

Ultimately all these arguments are based on the idea that the nature of the mind, its clarity and awareness, must have clarity and awareness as its substantial cause. It cannot have any other entity such as an inanimate object as its substantial cause. This is self-evident. Through logical analysis we infer that a new stream of clarity and awareness cannot come about without causes or from unrelated causes. While we observe that mind cannot be produced in a laboratory, we also infer that nothing can eliminate the continuity of subtle clarity and awareness.

As far as I know, no modern psychologist, physicist, or neuroscientist has been able to observe or predict the production of mind either from matter or without cause.


Source. Emphasis added.

So I think this viewpoint is incompatabile with the materialist view of sentient beings evolving from matter only, and that is a view that I don't accept.
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby randomseb » Thu May 09, 2013 11:49 pm

Our "intelligence" is an arising pattern that emerges from the complexity of the interaction of billions of individual lifeforms in our head.. Do you think we can replicate this artificially?
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby Holybla » Thu May 09, 2013 11:52 pm

shel wrote:In a popular scifi series about sentient machines the artificial humans minds are constantly being 'backed-up' (wirelessly or non-materially :quoteunquote: ) to a storage facility. When the machines are killed they are reborn with new bodies and their stored minds in a rebirth facility. In this scenario Buddhist rebirth would seem to be superfluous. In the very least it complicates matters! :tongue:


I think there's no death here in BSG. I think the cylons are long life gods type of beings...
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby Jesse » Fri May 10, 2013 12:10 am

jeeprs wrote:There is a relevant passage in a recent statement by the Dalai Lama on the nature of re-birth. The reason it is relevant is because of what it says about 'the nature of mind' - that mind cannot be understood as something that emerges from matter or can be explained in material terms.

There are many different logical arguments given in the words of the Buddha and subsequent commentaries to prove the existence of past and future lives. In brief, they come down to four points: the logic that things are preceded by things of a similar type, the logic that things are preceded by a substantial cause, the logic that the mind has gained familiarity with things in the past, and the logic of having gained experience of things in the past.

Ultimately all these arguments are based on the idea that the nature of the mind, its clarity and awareness, must have clarity and awareness as its substantial cause. It cannot have any other entity such as an inanimate object as its substantial cause. This is self-evident. Through logical analysis we infer that a new stream of clarity and awareness cannot come about without causes or from unrelated causes. While we observe that mind cannot be produced in a laboratory, we also infer that nothing can eliminate the continuity of subtle clarity and awareness.

As far as I know, no modern psychologist, physicist, or neuroscientist has been able to observe or predict the production of mind either from matter or without cause.


Source. Emphasis added.

So I think this viewpoint is incompatabile with the materialist view of sentient beings evolving from matter only, and that is a view that I don't accept.


http://www.alamut.com/subj/ideologies/b ... nd_AI.html

Quoted from the book, Gentle Bridges: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on the Sciences of Mind by Jeremy Hayward and Francisco Varela. Shambala, 1992. pp. 152-153. (File courtesy pixel.txt weblog.)

DALAI LAMA: In terms of the actual substance of which computers are made, are they simply metal, plastic, circuits, and so forth?

VARELA: Yes, but this again brings up the idea of the pattern, not the substance but the pattern.

DALAI LAMA: It is very difficult to say that it's not a living being, that it doesn't have cognition, even from the Buddhist point of view. We maintain that there are certain types of births in which a preceding continuum of consciousness is the basis. The consciousness doesn't actually arise from the matter, but a continuum of consciousness might conceivably come into it.

HAYWARD: Does Your Holiness regard it as a definite criterion that there must be continuity with some prior consciousness? That whenever there is a cognition, there must have been a stream of cognition going back to beginningless time?

DALAI LAMA: There is no possibility for a new cognition, which has no relationship to a previous continuum, to arise at all. I can't totally rule out the possibility that, if all the external conditions and the karmic action were there, a stream of consciousness might actually enter into a computer.

HAYWARD: A stream of consciousness?

DALAI LAMA: Yes, that's right. [DALAI LAMA laughs.] There is a possibility that a scientist who is very much involved his whole life [with computers], then the next life... [he would be reborn in a computer], same process! [Laughter.] Then this machine which is half-human and half-machine has been reincarnated.

VARELA: You wouldn't rule it out then? You wouldn't say this is impossible?

DALAI LAMA: We can't rule it out.

ROSCH: So if there's a great yogi who is dying and he is standing in front of the best computer there is, could he project his subtle consciousness into the computer?

DALAI LAMA: If the physical basis of the computer acquires the potential or the ability to serve as a basis for a continuum of consciousness. I feel this question about computers will be resolved only by time. We just have to wait and see until it actually happens.
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby Wayfarer » Fri May 10, 2013 12:23 am

Interesting passage. We will have to 'wait and see' for a looooong time. Maybe some future life. :smile:
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri May 10, 2013 1:01 am

The question you have to ask is at what point these chemicals of the human brain:
Water 77 to 78 %
fats 10 to 12 %
Protein 8%
Carbohydrate 1%
Soluble organic substances 2%
Inorganic salts 1%
--at what point do they begin to, essentially, bear witness to their own activity?
In other words, not only are you thinking, but you know that you are thinking.
So, you can say, "my thoughts" and "my experience".
But Buddhism asks you to look at what that "me" really is all about.

And, as I alluded to in that other thread,
the big mistake being made is approaching this topic
as though there intrinsically a is a "me" that is occurring.
"what happens to my consciousness"
and from that, the position that consciousness is a "thing" as well.

The flaw comes from thinking that this "me" has a brain, has thoughts.
But that is not the case.
It is the other way around.
It is the activity of the brain when combined with basic, fundamental "awareness"
(not to be confused with cognitive awareness)
which provides the physical, material environment by which, the (illusory) experience of "me" occurs.

Otherwise, what you are talking about is essentially a computer that generates its own user,
a chicken that lays the egg from which itself is hatched...
which, of course, makes no sense.
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby vinodh » Fri May 10, 2013 1:05 am

http://www.virtualvinodh.com

yo dharmaṁ paśyati, sa buddhaṁ paśyati

One who sees the Dharma, sees the Buddha
śālistamba sūtra

na pudgalo na ca skandhā buddho jñānamanāsravam
sadāśāntiṁ vibhāvitvā gacchāmi śaraṇaṁ hyaham

Neither a person nor the aggregates, the Buddha, is knowledge free from [evil] outflows
Clearly perceiving [him] to be eternally serene, I go for refuge [in him]
saddharma-laṅkāvatāra-sūtra
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby Wayfarer » Fri May 10, 2013 1:08 am

Interesting point about that passage is that HH does not suggest that 'mind' is something that a computer could generate. He speculates that a computer or artificial system might host a mind at some stage in the future.
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby shel » Fri May 10, 2013 1:10 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Otherwise, what you are talking about is essentially a computer that generates its own user,
a chicken that lays the egg from which itself is hatched...
which, of course, makes no sense.


Are you saying that there actually is a me? Yippie! for minute I was starting to believe the no-self stuff. :tongue:
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby shel » Fri May 10, 2013 1:14 am

jeeprs wrote:Interesting point about that passage is that HH does not suggest that 'mind' is something that a computer could generate. He speculates that a computer or artificial system might host a mind at some stage in the future.


The cool part is that it would only need to happen once, because a machine could be effectively immortal.
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby Hickersonia » Fri May 10, 2013 1:22 am

Astus wrote:Vinodh,

As I see it, true AI is not possible. Programming is based on mathematical principles, however, intelligence is not bound by such rules of logic.


This sparked an odd vision in my mind of a bunch of supercomputers talking to eachother, arguing "...a biochemical processor, that is not possible..."

I agree that artificial intelligence is unlikely, but I won't use words like "impossible."
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby Holybla » Fri May 10, 2013 2:05 am

Don't the dharma masters say that mind is artifice? We are the artificial intelligences. One day the robots will think, how did we get this way? Why do we think like this? Then billions of years later we will be right back into these same questions, unless like the robot in that Korean flick that attained buddhahood, we just give up sentience and cease...
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby Wayfarer » Fri May 10, 2013 2:08 am

Don't the dharma masters say that mind is artifice?


I don't think so. Have you ever noticed how the word 'mind' is used in many Tibetan texts? Usually capitalized, like Mind, or One Mind. Nothing 'artificial' about that.
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri May 10, 2013 3:47 am

Holybla wrote: the robot in that Korean flick that attained buddhahood...

I don't know that one. Can you tell us the name of the movie?

:coffee:
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby plwk » Fri May 10, 2013 3:58 am

the robot in that Korean flick that attained buddhahood...

I don't know that one. Can you tell us the name of the movie?

:coffee:
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby Simon E. » Fri May 10, 2013 7:52 am

Holybla wrote:Don't the dharma masters say that mind is artifice? We are the artificial intelligences. One day the robots will think, how did we get this way? Why do we think like this? Then billions of years later we will be right back into these same questions, unless like the robot in that Korean flick that attained buddhahood, we just give up sentience and cease...

No, actually they dont.
I see a lot of Clinical Depression on this thread..a lot of longing for non-being. Of fear of life and the messy stuff of humanity. A grasping after a pure form of existence that has its roots in annihilationism given license by other means.
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Re: Artificial Intelligence & Sentience

Postby shel » Fri May 10, 2013 8:58 am

I for one have been feeling a tad annihilly lately. :pig:
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