Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.

Bodhisattva Relations with Machines?

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 27, 2020

True Love for the Artificial? Toward the Possibility of Bodhisattva Relations with Machines

Thomas H. Doctor
Kathmandu University Centre for Buddhist Studies at Rangjung Yeshe Institute

Given our increasing interaction with artificial intelligence and immersion in virtual reality, which epistemic and moral attitudes towards virtual beings might we think proper, relevant, and fulfilling? That is the basic question that this article wishes to raise. For the main part, it presents a descriptive analysis of our current situation, which is meant to expose features of artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) that seem both salient and easily aligned with central Buddhist concerns. Developed without any requirement for, or expectation of, the existence of real subjects and selves, Buddhist views and practices clearly resonate with the assumptions of unreal mind and mere appearance that are associated with AI and VR. Yet Buddhists famously also declare that the illusion-like nature of things does not negate, but in fact entails, universal care and deep meaning. I conclude by suggesting that such doctrinal claims may be tested for practical relevance in the present and emerging world of interconnectivity and illusion.

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Review: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 26, 2019

21 Lessons for the 21st Century. By Yuval Noah Harari. New York: Spiegel and Grau, 2018, ISBN 9780525512172 (hardback), U.S. $28.00.

Reviewed by Victor Forte

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Free Will and Artificial Intelligence

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 25, 2018

Buddhist Philosophy, Free Will, and Artificial Intelligence

James V. Luisi
Independent Scholar

Can Buddhist philosophy and Western philosophical conceptions of free will intelligently inform each other? Repetti has described one possible Buddhist option of solving the free will problem by identifying a middle path between the extremes of rigid determinism, as understood by the hard determinist, and random indeterminism, as understood by the hard indeterminist. In support of this middle path option, I draw upon ideas from the fields of artificial intelligence, quantum computing, evolutionary psychology, and related fields that together render coherent the ideas that determinism may be non-rigid and that indeterminism may be non-random, on the one hand, and upon Buddhist ideas, such as interdependence, the four-cornered negation, and what Repetti describes as the Buddhist conception of causation as “wiggly,” to argue that Buddhist philosophy has much to contribute to the field of artificial intelligence, on the other hand. Together, I suggest, the Buddhist philosopher and the software expert would form an ideal team to take on the task of constructing genuine artificial intelligence capable of the sort of conscious agency that human beings apparently possess.
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