Dalai Lama on reincarnation and artificial intelligence

Here’s some interesting viewpoints, coming straight from the highest source in Tibetan Buddhism, regarding artificial intelligence and reincarnation. If it’s possible to upload/download the mind we’re going to be in for a duplication and expansion of consciousness beyond our imagination. Perhaps all this was already regulated in the biological bodies we already have? That we already have the best version of host for the mind? Death and rebirth after death and rebirth – while the mind always has to come out from something and cannot come from nothing according to Buddhism. Here’s what Dalai Lama says.

Gentle Bridges: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on the Sciences of Mind by Jeremy Hayward and Francisco Varela. Shambala, 1992. pages 152-153.

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.

What do you think?

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