Artificial Wisdom

- Poster Presentation at INSIGHT Conference 2021

I was selected to give a poster presentation about Artificial Wisdom at INSIGHT Conference 2021, a world-leading conference in the study of consciousness and psychedelic science. In this presentation, I show that Zen Buddhism offers a natural complement to the strengths in symbolic reasoning typically denoted by intelligence, and it's relevance in the AI-development landscape.

Zen is characterised by attempting to understand the meaning of life through direct experience, overcoming the limits of logical thought and language. To quote Alan Watts, "You cannot get wet in the word water." Its teachings of direct perception and spontaneous action offer a complement to the abstraction of symbolic knowledge and the pre-meditated nature of algorithm. Central to the goal alignment problem is developing an Artificial General Intelligence that embodies compassion, empathy, and wisdom. These values are at the core of Eastern methodologies for developing self-awareness. In seeking to build a benevolent super-intelligence, what better model than the monk?

Here I use OpenAI's GPT-3 algorithm to generate quotations in the style of western Zen scholar Alan Watts, and the ancient Chinese manuscript of the Tao Te Ching, presenting them alongside original examples. I explore the AI-generated quotations in the context of discovering an essential essence in Eastern esoteric teachings by using deterministic methods. I also explore Transformer architecture as an analogy to the interactions of consciousness and language, asking what we can learn both about the nature of language itself, and about non-linguistic modes of thought.

Finally, I use Technological Momentum Theory to speculatively propose an organic model of the technological development landscape. I ask whether we can helpfully frame AI as an evolutionary process within a self-steering socio-technological ecosystem, in order to better realise a symbiotic end goal. As opposed to tangible actions, my goal here is to describe a context within which benevolent AI is more likely to occur. As far as Zen is concerned, its teachings (and my presentation) are said to be a finger pointing at the moon. If you focus on the finger, you cannot see the moon.

Please feel free to contact me directly about this project or my related work. You can purchase a ticket through the main site to attend the conference.

More information about the presentation is available here. 

Selected Works

StyleGAN VideoProject type

Knowhere RadioProject type

INSIGHT Conference 2021Poster Presentation

Wherefore I AmSculpture

Tree of WisdomSculpture