Just believe. Chapter 4


Chapter 4 Believe in the Need for Us to think and become a benevolent Link in the Future of Evolution

Many if not all living beings are able to seek out light, which benefits them in one or more ways. The importance of light to vegetation and consequently to all forms of life has already been considered in Chapter 2. Many forms of life can be shown to be capable of programming themselves to a work and rest routine based on periodic availability of light. In the case of human beings also, it can be shown that such rhythms operate seemingly without the aid of the human minds. Perceptibly, humans following their minds and senses excessively against circadian rhythms seem to come proportionately to grief. Such voluntary tendency to ignore natural/instinctive rhythms results from some aspects of the highly evolved intelligence of the human species. Are intelligent machines made by men also evolving similarly? Is the man to machine relationship healthy enough to man? And as the relationship progresses in leaps and bounds, what should be the norms?

There is no universally accepted definition of intelligence, as this Wikipedia entry points out. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_human_intelligence

One definition is “the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn.” Scientists have attempted to trace the evolution of hominid intelligence over its course for the past 7 to10 million years and to attribute it to specific environmental challenges. Some scientists understand this evolution as a necessary process, but they also hold that it would be a great misunderstanding to see it as one directed to a given outcome.  Has intelligence been merely a survival accessory, like the venom of snakes or the speed of some wild cats far exceeding that of the fastest antelopes? Scientists agree that the acquisition of intelligence is the only adaptation which could have allowed the human species to establish complete domination over the rest of the natural world. Could our ape ancestor have indeed felt this kind of need, and craved for it intensely? Has the human species yet acquired enough intelligence to manage this responsibility? It is obvious that some large apes which are like us have not chosen to move away from their habitats and have not been environmentally challenged to evolve into more ‘intelligent’ apes

The manner of evolution of the human brain has been explained by John Hawks, a professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, while answering a question by a reader of Scientific American, Emma Schachner of Salt Lake City: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-has-human-brain-evolved/ “Humans are known for sporting big brains. On average, the size of primates’ brains is nearly double what is expected for mammals of the same body size. Across nearly seven million years, the human brain has tripled in size, with most of this growth occurring in the past two million years.”

Different approaches to looking at early skulls have given us evidence about the volumes of ancient brains and some details about the relative sizes of major cerebral areas. “For the first two thirds of our history, the size of our ancestors’ brains was within the range of those of other apes living today. The species of the famous Lucy fossil, Australopithecus afarensis, had skulls with internal volumes of between 400 and 550 ml, whereas chimpanzee skulls hold around 400 ml and gorillas between 500 and 700 ml. During this time, Australopithecine brains started to show subtle changes in structure and shape as compared with apes.” For instance, the neocortex had begun to expand, reorganizing its functions away from visual processing toward functions of other regions of the brain.

Nearly 1.9 million years ago, a modest increase in brain size occurred, including an expansion of a language-connected part of the frontal lobe called Broca’s area. The first fossil skulls of Homo erectus, 1.8 million years ago, had brains averaging a bit larger than 600 ml. Eventually the size rose to more than 1,000 ml by 500,000 years ago. “Early Homo sapiens had brains within the range of people today, averaging 1,200 ml or more. As our cultural and linguistic complexity, dietary needs and technological prowess took a significant leap forward at this stage, our brains grew to accommodate the changes. The shape changes we see accentuate the regions related to depth of planning, communication, problem solving and other more advanced cognitive functions.”

In the foregoing paragraphs, science has been shown to have handed to us these two significant conclusions:

  • Growth of our intelligence is reflected in the growth of our brain size to nearly triple that of our ape ancestor of about 7 to 10 million years ago.
  • Advanced cognitive functions are unique among mammals, and even among primates, to human beings, and they involve the human mind, which must be a pre-eminent function of the brain, especially of the extra portions of brain that accrued to man during his evolution involving growth of intelligence.

But have scientists established that the human mind is indeed entirely a function of the human brain? If it is, does a human brain function in part as a mind on its own, unassisted? The analogy intended here is to man made machines such as yesterday’s computing machines and tomorrow’s fantastic improvements in them.

In his bestselling book, ‘The believing Brain’, (a Robinson book, published in 2011 in the USA by Times Books, a Division of Henry Holt and Company LLC) the Southern California based psychologist cum science-historian Michael Shermer gives his considered opinion that beliefs come first, and explanations for the beliefs follow and help to reinforce them. He explains how the brain has a mechanism, involving the introduction of a very pleasing chemical substance such as dopamine into the tiny synapses between neurons whenever a pleasing thought enters a neuron, which helps that neuron to communicate with neighbours about any thought or belief which one neuron found agreeable. This creates a demand for more of the same and the brain creates all the thinking support necessary to get deeper into whatever it started believing since every such reinforcing step is pleasurable to it. Shermer says that our brains find patterns in the world around us and infuse them with meaning until they become beliefs. From then on, “we seek out confirmatory evidence to support those beliefs, reinforcing them”.  Shermer cites examples in religious and political ideologies, ideas of conspiracy theory and supernatural phenomena (namely phenomena defying rational explanations). People like him, whose thinking had led them to become sceptics at an important stage in their life, have been able to find or think up plenty of evidence supporting their scepticism. Many of their friends who similarly decided at some stage that they were believers, have argued themselves firmly into staying as believers. Human civilization has settled into perpetual camps in conflict, both in religious and political philosophy and practice.

Perhaps we have reached a situation when some of us must reanalyse the stands we decide to get stuck in so that we and the rest of the living world can evolve in the right directions. Man’s new-found ability to produce machines which can increasingly take over most of his functions effectively ought to bring into focus the danger of wrong choices.

The review of a new book now available from the MIT press through Amazon online https://www.amazon.in/Deep-Learning-Revolution-MIT-Press/dp/026203803X reads as follows:

“How deep learning-from Google Translate to driverless cars to personal cognitive assistants-is changing our lives and transforming every sector of the economy. The deep learning revolution has brought us driverless cars, the greatly improved Google Translate, fluent conversations with Siri and Alexa, and enormous profits from automated trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Deep learning networks can play poker better than professional poker players and defeat a world champion at Go. In this book, Terrence J. Sejnowski explains how deep learning went from being an arcane academic field to a disruptive technology in the information economy. Sejnowski played an important role in the founding of deep learning, as one of a small group of researchers in the 1980s who challenged the prevailing logic-and-symbol based version of AI. The new version of AI that Sejnowski and others developed, which became deep learning, is fuelled instead by data. Deep networks learn from data in the same way that babies experience the world, starting with fresh eyes and gradually acquiring the skills needed to navigate novel environments. Learning algorithms extract information from raw data; information can be used to create knowledge; knowledge underlies understanding; understanding leads to wisdom. Someday a driverless car will know the road better than you do and drive with more skill; a deep learning network will diagnose your illness; a personal cognitive assistant will augment your puny human brain. It took nature many millions of years to evolve human intelligence; AI is on a trajectory measured in decades. Sejnowski prepares us for a deep learning future.”

Angela Chen interviewed Sejnowski just about a week ago about the book for ‘The Verge’ https://www.theverge.com/2018/10/16/17985168/deep-learning-revolution-terrence-sejnowski-artificial-intelligence-technology and was able to get clear on a lot of hype about AI, machine learning and deep learning. She also got a very good perspective on the extraordinary prospects being held out by deep learning. In olden days human labour was inexpensive, while computational output was both slow and expensive. We have already reached a stage where the situation is very different. Human operation has become very expensive. Computational efficiency has gone up severalfold and has also become less expensive.

The trend is irreversible. It can irrigate many aspirations with hope. Dependence on this new technology will only make human physical and mental effort less and less available from the majority, while extraordinary and pathbreaking intellectual work will be conducted by the new machines and their very elite, very thinly populated set of human guides. We can easily recall the stages that humanity has gone through since the middle of the previous century and realize how rapidly things are changing and how this change can continue to shrink the percentage of the new knowledge-aristocracy and how it will have to meet new challenges.

By knowledge aristocracy I mean the scientists and technologists who know independently of any others how to create, manage and control the most updated technologies in any field. Each such person will have the responsibility to keep in a position of optimal satisfaction, thousands, millions of others who would only be obeying the rules and following the procedures laid out by the knowing. A person who is now in the seventies who can still do arithmetic mentally (and does not have to, of course) and still write his texts without errors (and once again does not have to) will understand what I mean. There will always be pockets of this planet, where the main power grid can fail for some measurable interval. You can guess what that would mean for the affected packages of humanity who have unlearnt most of their natural faculties and could only go deeper and further in that direction, when they get more and more deeply-learned-machine help. You only need to look at the reducing requirements of any kind of human assistance for progress, from deliberations in the developed world for four-working-day-weeks.

That means that the machine now has a larger proportion of humanlike neural network. This proportion will keep increasing without the need to do a lot of painstaking new ‘connection’. The more human like neural network that an AI machine develops, especially through its own learning, the greater is the possibility that it can mix truths with fantasies and that it can either benefit or deceive its employer. In the interview with Angela Chen, Sejnowski refers to a significant event that occurred about six years ago. “December 2012 at the NIPS meeting, which is the biggest AI conference. There, [computer scientist] Geoff Hinton and two of his graduate students showed you could take a very large dataset called ImageNet, with 10,000 categories and 10 million images, and reduce the classification error by 20 percent using deep learning! Traditionally on that dataset, error decreases by less than 1 percent in one year. In one year, 20 years of research was bypassed because of the ImageNet. That really opened the floodgates.” As Scientists know more and more about the architecture of the human brain, all or most of the information will be added in the work on AI leading to closer convergence of neurology and AI research.

Scientists and technologists and the management experts working with them can always hope to have the last word to see that the superhuman deep learners will always be under our control. But under whose control? Even at the present level of yesterday’s technological advancement, while commercial greed takes care to see that a very large proportion of humanity has access to the latest version of most sophisticated devices, how efficiently is the average customer served with reference to its servicing? How much help does the average customer get in disposing the older version and its accessories without polluting his own or someone else’s environment? Is there real accountability now for the increase in health problems of the lay person who is obliged to use the gadgets that the market place thrusts on him from time to time? Modern life also makes real healthy living more and more of a dream. Forests are continuously encroached upon. A great variety of processed food is made available, taking away the natural inclination to use fresh green materials from Nature’s laps and the pleasure of preparing a part of it at home with one’s own hands. People will have more holidays and travel more across time zones and disturb their circadian rhythms no end.

I mentioned just a while ago the definite possibility of fake outputs from super intelligent AI help. Mankind has been so far taught that they can expect predictable outputs from machines. Imagine the amount of chaos that will reign everywhere when you will need special recruiting expertise not unlike HR managers to purchase moderately truthful robots!

Let us go back to the meaning of evolution itself. The cheetah wanted to have a reasonable chance of overtaking a deer in its chase. The deer wanted to escape most of the wild cats which could be hiding anywhere in its path. Their speeds increased. The chameleon wanted to escape from its predators and thought that the chances would be more if it could change its colour to green and back at will. It developed that ability. A lot of small animals a long while ago dreaded the prospect of being wiped out by the sheer movement of mammoths and dinosaurs among them and hid into their burrows perhaps wondering why the huge monsters do not get destroyed by a natural calamity. Some of them survived when a huge meteorite impacted the earth. None of the dinosaurs and their mammoth cousins did. The number of interesting faculties that almost every living, surviving species has developed over the years is indeed of the stuff of fairy tales. The prehumen ape wanted to roam at will on land and did not like being tied to the treetops. It worried about its safety away from the treetop. It eventually lost its tail and started walking on land, with a brain that became more intelligent. All these changes took thousands and thousands of years. Legends of long ago including those of tribal origin in different parts of the world talk about a deluge when a certain number of living beings were rescued miraculously by a boat. In some cases, the boat was pulled to safety by a huge fish. I simplistically suggest that behind all these changes and narratives there was the wish. Just as modern man wished to travel faster, to swim across water, to fly in the air, and science, through his intelligent brain helped him. Having worked hard to achieve his wants, modern man now wants to work less and less to achieve the same ends. So, his machines and he himself are becoming super-thinkers and super-performers. The time required for changes has also been getting shorter and shorter. This ape is developing faculties which enable him to find solutions to many of his problems faster. The successful sustaining of Moore’s Law (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law) that requires doubling of the number of transistors in an integrated circuit every year or two for nearly five decades has been possible because of path-breaking inventions all along the way by rising human ingenuity in a short time, almost on order.

If the availability or otherwise of light can be communicated to very rudimentary vegetation, if the wish of a chameleon or an antelope can be communicated to its environment and result in the wish being granted, if positive thinking enables a sufferer to get past his suffering, if a placebo or some nominal medication can get a person freed of a sickness, if pleasing beliefs are reinforced in the brain through the reward of release of dopamine whenever there is a repetition, if brains of scientists in chosen fields get more and more productive , how closely indeed does Mother Nature seem to interact with all living things!  Especially with respect to intense wishes! Some would call them prayers, which are being answered! In any case, our readers will agree that the seeking intensity of scientists is really of a high order.

As must have been the intensity of our sages who were seeking to know their selves. In such seeking and finding, they also managed, when the contemplation went very deep in polarised focus, to find a universal self too, which they termed param brahma. Some of them could identify their selves totally with the universal self, and others too felt there was a close kinship. The sages also had something to say about intelligence, which they called buddhi, whose flowering into prajna on occasion turned out to be most enjoyable. Such flowering seemed to occur especially during their yogic practices of the meditative kind. As the highly inquisitive and persevering young scholar Nachiketas found during his dialogue with Yama, Kathopanishad, 3.3, one’s self seems to ride in one’s body which is like a chariot, with the senses attached to it behaving like horses which simply pursue objects that attract them. The Self’s mind functions as the rein that controls their course which is finally determined by Intellect/Intelligence, namely buddhi functioning as the charioteer.

In the process of deep learning, because of massive data input and the possibility of quantitative rather than discriminative absorption of data, the resulting intelligence without tested values is bound to adversely influence the beneficial effects of output. Intelligent leaders of society, especially from the academia, who understand the need for channelling new inventions entirely for benefitting mankind with next to no harm to the already miserably treated environment and with security for all users must oversee applications to avoid dangerous, purely commercial decisions. We can ill afford to unleash Frankensteins in our midst.

We have managed to evolve rather well. We can only be better if we prioritize unmixed social benefit and safety while developing deep learning further, in this interesting stage in the evolution of machine-man interface. Such responsible leadership can be insisted upon by all right-thinking persons, whether one does or does not accept the sanatanic concept of universal consciousness or the possibility of consciousness entering the picture in the activity of the human brain.

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27 Replies to “Just believe. Chapter 4”

  1. Wow. I loved it. Have lot of thoughts and comments on it. I see it this way.

    Entropy – Information Content – Knowledge – Buddhi

    When spacetime expands or matter expands in spacetime, entropy or possible microstates that matter can occupy increases. Similarly when energy is added to matter/system, the entropy or possible microstates that matter can occupy increases.

    This perceivable /visible entropy/ possible micro-states is the information content or knowledge or buddhi.

    Prajna (Residual Entropy) and Buddhi (Entropy)

    Prajna, is the residual entropy, the possible microstates that matter occupies at zero kelvin. Prajna is the consciousness, the platform on which appears the buddhi.

    In Universe’s terms, the four-stage vAk, the expression of this whole Universe (Quantum Background oscillations, Quantum, Emergence of classicality and Classical world) start with residual entropy at zero kelvin in each stage.

    In biological terms, prajna is what we call as consciousness.

    In Universe’s terms, Buddhi is the information content or entropy above zero kelvin. In biological terms buddhi is the visible/perceivable knowledge that appears on top of consciousness.

    That is, all matter forms are prajnA (expressions with residual entropy) with buddhi, a perceivable information content or entropy in them.

    Tree and Leaves

    If prajna, the residual entropy is the tree, then buddhi are the leaves.

    Like the tree that shed its leaves can regenerate them again and again, prajna, expressions of matter with residual entropy has the capacity to regenerate buddhi (information content or entropy) again and again, in Universe’s terms.

    In biological terms, as long as there is prajna, it can grow buddhi.

    Buddhi grows by Vidhya, the learning

    Buddhi, the entropy or knowledge grows by Vidhya, the process of learning.

    In Universe’s terms, vidhya is process of acquiring new microscopic states or information content or entropy due to addition/subtraction of energy or expanding into space. In Biological terms, Vidhya is learning new information that increases knowledge/buddhi.

    Brahman, evolution through Vidya and Avidya

    Vidhya is learning. Avidhya is Un-learning.

    While buddhi increases by Vidhya (the learning), brahman (the evolution) occurs by both Vidhya and Avidhya. Brahman, the evolution happens through the process of learning and un-learning.

    In Universe’s terms, Avidhya is the process of losing some microscopic states or information content or entropy due to addition/subtraction of energy or change in occupation of space. For eg. a gravitational collapse of a star. As matter collapses due to spacetime warping or gravitation, the possible states that it can occupy, its information content or entropy gets reduced. This is a process of Avidhya or unlearning. But this process of avidya or unlearning increases the thermal energy which ultimately makes it to break the electromagnetic barriers and causes proton-proton fusion creating far advanced elements. Thus unlearning ultimately leads to newer evolution of matter.

    In biological terms, avidhya is losing some existing information in such a way, the current barriers are overcome and newer evolution occurs. For eg. when sea levels rise, separating land-masses, biological beings have to unlearn some of their survival/energy consumption techniques and learn new energy consumption techniques in the process of adaptation, which leads to evolution of totally new species with new capabilities.

    Un-learning or Avidhya is vital for evolution. What is un-learnt effectively determines evolution to new species, in both matter and beings.

    Artificial Intelligence – Machine Learning – Deep Learning

    Much of AI concentrates on Machine learning and more/deep learning from a set of information. In that way they are powerful tools for decision as there are lot more information than few human minds could grasp from a data-set.

    But as independent beings, they lack the true capability to un-learn. Hence they can’t evolve.

    The capability to un-learn is being built in modern AI, but as forgetting of data. But real Avidhya is un-learning of information from a data-set that is not just forgetting the data, but that which leads to evolution of new capabilities. This is a tricky part. AI is far away from it.

    Entropy-Energy conversion

    AI also needs to conquer the Entropy-Energy conversion through the process of learning (Vidhya) and un-learning (Avidhya). This conversion between energy to entropy and entropy to energy that happens through the process of Vidhya (learning) and Avidhya (un-learning) is what drives Brahman, the evolution in Universe and biological beings. For AI to reach to those levels, is going to take some time.

    Actually this entropy-energy conversion is possible for AI in the near future.

    But I suspect Avidhya, the process of un-learning is going to be the barrier for AI to achieve the Brahman and equal any biological being.


  2. I love the idea that AI is and will be for quite some time incapable of avidya, namely unlearning-not simply forgetting. This is because prakriti which has always been capable of both vidya and avidya did not directly involve itself in creating AI. Is it possible that this capability grows in AI in the deep learning mode, when greater and greater exposure to human brain architecture takes place?
    The Deep learning scientists are afraid that dishonesty as well as plain falsehood in terms of fantasy will soon become a percentage of AI output because of the potential it has for larger ‘imitation-human’ content.

  3. A very interesting progression of your series dear Partha!

    A note about “Vidya and Avidya”. IMHO, In the Upanishadic context, Vidya is not about mundane knowledge, but about Self-knowledge. Avidya is lack of Self-knowledge or self-recognition. This is also reflected in the works of Kashmir Shaivism.

    That AI can learn to “lie” is well known — https://www.inc.com/james-sudakow/we-have-just-taught-artificial-intelligence-to-lie-better-than-humans-this-could.html. It could be argued that this too is a type of Vidya (art of lying). But is it really Vidya?

    And is Avidya really “forgetting” or “unlearning”? I don’t think so. In terms of unlearning, I don’t think it is very difficult to achieve that for a programmed intelligence.

    Just like the mechanism of our ability to store and recall memories and impressions is called chitta (one of the components of the antahkarana). What we call “vidya” in the mundane sense (or transactional sense) is essentially a complex of memories and associated neural networks that are fired as a result of being exposed to stimuli (thereof in the brain). It would be much easier for a
    program to be able to delete its memory banks and associated neural networks, as opposed to us humans who don’t have that degree of autonomy or control over our memory banks and neural networks. For us, it takes years of meditation and practice to unlearn. For AI it should be much simpler actually….

    1. In my view, the avidya, the un-learning, the reduction in information content, is that which triggers further evolution of matter or beings. Not just simple deletion of memory.

      As an example, gravity collapses a star, reduces the possible states that matter can occupy, but increases thermal energy which breaks barriers of EM field, introduces nuclear fusion and production of larger elements.

      The un-learning here is not about deletion or reduction. It is about evolution.

      Brahman, the evolution progresses as vidya (learning) and avidya (unlearning). Both are important.

      But what is this avidya..? Is it simply forgetting or deleting..? That already exists in AI and is being further developed.

      But what is tricky is the un-learning or removing the information content that trigger further evolution or further increase in information content..?


  4. Thank you very much, dear Dwai.
    I see the significance of your pointing out that in the mundane dealings of modern men, whether or not assisted by AI, there is hardly any scope for Vidya according to upanishadic definition, so why bother about unlearning the absent Vidya?
    Based on Sudakow’s lighthearted take on the potential deceit content in updated AI, it is precisely this domination of wrong men over their own machines, like the possession of chemical weapons by terrorist groups, or the ganging up of demoniac (Rakshasa) forces in all ancient and modern fantasies which deserves to be controlled to the extent possible by powerful public interest groups. Not only advanced weaponry but any kind of advanced knowledge which has vama possibilities should be safeguarded throughout its development stages by any rightminded society which has to survive ultimately. Survival of the human race has always been and always will be because of the right having definite, if slight, edge over the wrong. I would like decent people around the world to sound the warning bell about wrong men manipulating deep learning machines before it is too late.

  5. In the outwardly expression of Universe (the bAhis -prajnA) , the fourth part of the Universal expression, there is only bhuta, the matter at first. But from there evolves the Pitr and the manuSya through this Universal Yajna.

    The Brhadharanyaka Upanishad 1.14.16 says

    atho ayaṃ vā ātmā sarveṣām bhūtānāṃ lokaḥ;
    sa yaj juhoti,
    yadyajate, tena devānāṃ lokaḥ.
    atha yad anubrūte tena rṣiṇām,
    atha yat pitṛbhyo nipṛṇāti,
    yat prajām icchate, tena pitṛṇām;
    atha yan manuṣyānvāsayate,
    yadebhyo’śanaṃ dadāti, tena manuṣyāṇām

    Then all the loka reigned by Atma was bhuta.
    Which is the oblation in sacrifice
    Which sacrifice those worlds of deva
    Then which declares the deva are the RSis
    Then of which pours from them
    That ‘desires’ offsprings are the Pitr
    Those that reside and give/grow food are the manuSya

    The difference between bhuta and Pitr is Pitr desires praja. Those matter forms that ‘desire’ offspring, right from the replicating RNA are our Pitrs.

    Bhutas exist. They don’t have iccha for praja. Pitrs Survive. They have iccha for praja. This iccha for praja is the survival instinct in my view.

    The moment ‘iccha’ for ‘praja’ comes in, Survival comes in, camouflaging, deception starts. Even the birds and animals camouflage and deceive. It is because of their ‘iccha’, of their needs of ‘Survival’.

    Humans have inherited that. Since they can speak, their deceptions and camouflaging becomes ‘lies’ and ‘dis-honesty’.

    For AI to do deceive, camouflage or be dis-honest, they can be programmed to do so, as a strategy for self-existence. But that is not the survival instinct, the iccha for praja.

    A survival instinct always manifests as ‘iccha’ for ‘praja’. Because survival depends on upgrading/evolving that survival instinct into future environments. The question is will something like AI can develop or have the ‘iccha’ for ‘praja’..?


  6. Thank you, TBT.
    That is an interesting thought, clearly distinguishing AI from shall we say HI? The course that AI will take till it is permitted , God forbid, to become fully capable of independent survival, depends on HI
    Apart from the wonderful understanding that you friends have demonstrated, I am hoping for support to the not very clever, but rather earnest basic idea of my paper. I request all my friends to talk to influential friends and also to appeal to men in the AI discipline among their acquaintances to take care that this technology is allowed to evolve only for the welfare of humanity and the other denizens of this planet. Tall order. But intense wishes have always mattered.

    1. May be AI from AI..?

      Artificial Intelligence from Atman’s Intelligence..?

      We, the matter and beings are the thoughts/knowledge of the Atman. We have Brahman, the evolution in us. Our thoughts, our knowledge are always evolving because we have the brahman, the evolution, the ultimate reality of this Universe.

      Artificial Intelligence is our thoughts, our knowledge pooled together, with more advanced computation than our brain can do, making the sum more than its parts. They can do better learning, fine. Can they (the sum of our thoughts on an advanced computing platform) evolve on their own.? Can they have Brahman in them..? For Brahman, they have to have un-learning in such a way that the information content ultimately increases. They have to have a ‘desire’ to survive (iccha for praja) and not just desire to exist (which can be programmed) on their own.

      But even without un-learning, even without iccha for praja, AI can do great harm and great wonders.

      Let’s do this fantasy trip.

      From thoughts of Atman, we the human beings with thinking capabilities have evolved. We are Atman’s Artificial Intelligence in a way. Does the Atman have fear that Atman’s Artificial Intelligence, the human beings, will run out of control..? But if it happens, Atman can ‘pull the plug’ anytime by some energy altering mechanisms say a Higgs decay or dark energy expansion etc etc..

      Same way as long as human beings retain control of the energy altering mechanisms of AI, then the potential harm of a non-evolving AI can be under control…?

      Just some loud thinking..


  7. Dear Partha,
    Excellent! Enjoyed the article.
    I have never understood the link between increasing brain size and intelligence. Is intelligence a product of the flesh and bone of the brain? Or is it that the increasing brain size enables us to apply our intelligence in a more appropriate fashion?


  8. Dear TBT,
    Enjoyed your well orchestrated thinking,
    We have overwhelming evidence that Existence/Nature is totally involved with the living systems it has created from their birth to death and disposal, which is another way of saying along with conventional Science that living systems are in tune with existence, since they have after all been created from its resources. But we also know that our species has violently shaken itself out of such natural alignment and this could be due to the evolution of its intelligence in unplanned/unscheduled-ways. In this development, I like to think that Universal consciousness./Atman/Intelligence has always been involved in ways known and unknown to us. It is just necessary for human intelligence similarly to be always hands on to deal with aberrations beyond regimen in AI.
    Thanks for your appreciation, dear Pradip. Imho, our body is not meant to be a one way container of solids, liquids, gases or information. It has facilities for processing these and using essential portions of these in our living cells with their several seemingly automated functions. It may have a certain amount of storage space for some kinds of matter, energy and information in some forms. So I consider the brain too like the aliment , the breathing system and the fluid hydraulics to be a two way provision, which is produced at conception and dies at cessation of provisions for its job. That it has a lot of storage space and may last for a while if you freeze it does not make it the author of all its functions. I hold that information in some form is external and for ever.
    Warm regards, dear friends.

  9. Good article. It shows how human evolution and knowledge-based systems are progressing. However, I do see some limitations of AI. These are basically limitations of science & mathematics on which AI is based on.

    Science & mathematics is based on various kinds of presuppositions which cannot be validated within themselves. We know this from Gödel’s incompleteness theorem. This is where intuition comes into picture.

    Intuition stands to intellect in somewhat the same relation as intellect stands to sense. Though intuition lies beyond intellect, it is not contrary to it. (1)

    Aristotle’s nous represents the intuitive apprehension of the first principles which all reasoning assumes to start with. They are incapable of proof or disproof. “How,” he asks, “can there be a science of first principles?” Their truth is evident to everyone. We become aware of them by nous, by direct intuition and not by demonstrative science. (1)

    On a side note Yoga-Vedanta mediation is not about increasing intelligence (buddhi) but about obtaining intuition (vidya). Sharpening of intelligence (buddhi) is just side effect.

    AI even if more intelligent than human beings can never have intuition. Albert Einstein said “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

    IMHO AI can never be master but it can be a double edge sword. We hope it is always in the hands of enlightened or wise master.


    1. Ref: An Idealist View of Life by R Radhakrishnan

  10. You say Sri Raju,
    AI can never be master but it can be a double edge sword. We hope it is always in the hands of enlightened or wise master.
    The first sentence reassures me and the second echoes the very purpose of my article.

  11. How would you translate intuition into Indian languages? Prajna? meaning prior knowledge, as with axioms in Maths and Sciences?
    Warm regards. Good to hear from you after a long time.

  12. Yes, I had Prajna in my mind when I said intuition. I agree, buddhi, rational intellect, can help one to point to ultimate reality beyond itself as mentioned in chariot metaphor in the Katha Upanishad. This AI can never have. I guess there are other words for intelligence besides Buddhi like Viveka and Viveka-Khyati which bring out nuance.

    I believe explicitly stating of goal of eternal blissful existence as main goal will help overcome limitations of some of the words like intelligence and intuition in English language for people who don’t have background in spiritual aspects of Indic culture.


  13. Such simplifications have been attempted in religious/spiritual discourses, quite properly too. Knowing such agreeable goals amounts almost to knowledge of the pathway for several aspirants.
    Have you been to the Parthasarathy temple at Tiruvallikkeni, Chennai? The moola icon stands majestically in the inner sanctum with its left palm open, fingers pointing downwards to his feet, obviously asking the devotee to surrender to hm unconditionally. This is what prajna dictates to a person and he does not ask why. True to the chariot metaphor in kathopanishad where Buddhi is the sarathi, Gitacharya is the sarathi to Partha, representing all of mankind. One of the dhyanaslokas of the Gita refers to Krishna being the milkman milking upanjshads while the Arjuna calf waits expectantly. Unquestioning faith in the efficacy of buddhi helps the mind to pause and take control while it simply follows the indriyas dragging the chariot in the direction recommended by the senses.

  14. Yes, I will visit Parthasarathy temple when I have an opportunity to go to Chennai.

    Here, I am not saying feeling (devotion) and will power are ignored or excluded. Our understanding of reality depends upon our understanding of ourselves. However, it is Jnana yoga that puts greater emphasis on coherent reasoning & basis of Brahman in order to transcend human consciousness. Now, Jnana yoga is based on discrimination and dispassion. We know to see the real is discrimination, and to eschew the false is dispassion. Hence the path of knowledge is starting point or philosophical basis for all the Yoga’s even if assume that aspirant doesn’t know Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.

    Our ordinary experience is usually a mixture of all the three (knowing, willing & feeling), with one or the other predominating. Now coming to Prajna (anubhav or intuition) we know that it is pre-conceptual and this experience can’t be put in words. However, it considered as pure knowledge, free of willing and feeling otherwise there will be no basis or starting point or even claim of such an experience or its certainty. We see same thing and nothing but knowledge in Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. Once again in my view Jnana yoga doesn’t exclude or ignore feeling (devotion) and will power. I understand Vedanta view that knowledge is the primary and fundamental experience and all other forms of experience are derived from.


  15. Dear Partha

    The way I look at it is, ‘drzta’ is seeing. It is seeing externally. Here the seeing is a gross (sthula) process.

    ‘drzti’ is sukshma process of seeing. It is seeing, but seeing internally. This drzti is nothing but intuition, intuition is seeing internally in the sub-conscious mind.

    What do you think..?

    In fact all feminine words in Sanskrit indicate something sukshma (not the gross/sthula) is my understanding.


  16. Thank you, dear friend.
    Even in the purely material realm of mind and matter sciences it is grudgingly admitted that subjective feelings always accompany so called objective observations and standardizations are required in providing conditions and interpreting results of experiments of a number of persons. Psychologists and neuroscientists play around with the concept of consciousness and realize that their findings range from axiomatic to unexpected.
    Emotion was designed to accompany intellectual pursuit also in the spiritual realm and kept suitably in check or allowed free flow in context.without compromising the ultimate goal of freedom that is mukti. In Srivaishnavism and Shaivism, Jnanis hid their intellectual prowess when immersing themselves in devotion to a supreme principle or surrendering to it. The almost unthinking capacity for most subhuman forms of life to keep totally aligned to Nature and the tendency of Nature to demand optimal alignment to it even by the superior human life if the latter has to survive are also reflected in the intellect-emotion interplay of human beings.
    Regards. Partha

  17. Dear Raju,
    I am addressing you with the name this time to indicate that I am addressing you. The previous response is meant for you. Sri TBT’s post happened to come in while my response to you was being conveyed . I shall respond to him now.
    Regards. Partha.

  18. Dear Balajee,
    Please confirm that the spelling of your name is right.
    drshti happens to be the abstract noun form of the verb root drsh of seeing and is used both for the sthUla and the sUkshma forms.
    In line with energy present in matter being sUkshma and therefore shakti and feminine, I endorse the preferential use of the feminine for all sUkshma in literary use.
    Thanks for the insight.
    Regards. Partha

  19. IMHO both faith or intuition (prajna) are supposed to be at individual level and internal and nothing to do with anything external.

    I look at faith (Sanskrit word visvas) as more like hope or trust. Faith cannot be blind otherwise we will always have doubts. Now only way to remove doubts is to have coherent reasoning & basis of Brahman. Once we have basic logic then we know limitations of our five senses in knowing truth or God. It is only after this usefulness’ of faith comes into picture.

    We need all three things (knowing, willing & feeling/emotion) for realization. It is emotion that powers motivation and will power that keeps us on the path of self-realization. But it is only Jnana yoga of discrimination and dispassion will ensure that we are the right path otherwise there will be always doubts and hence no faith. Nobody wants to take a road that is dark where one doesn’t know where one is going. Knowing our temperament will also help us select path that suits us. We can always combine multiple paths (yoga’s) and in my opinion there is nothing wrong.


  20. My friend Prof Narsing Rao, formerly of PES University, Bangalore, passed this on to me.

    Dr. Kai-Fu Lee—one of the world’s most respected experts on AI and China—reveals that China has suddenly caught up to the US at an astonishingly rapid and unexpected pace.


    In Prof. Rao’s opinion, one reason that China has made incredible progress in technology is that they don’t waste time and energy fighting over religious issues. The comment is probably the result of his frustration with the way some people are able to use religion for disturbing peace around them and ignoring the possibility of friendly coexistence. He is obviously discounting the many ways in which the ordinary Chinese may be exploited regularly by the political bosses of the country.

  21. Please have a look at this video featuring the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister, Dr K. VijayRaghavan talking to Shri Rajiv Malhotra of the Infinity Foundation

    This is a very interesting conversation on Artificial Intelligence pertaining to India’s circumstances and future. Dr. Vijayraghavan is the Indian Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, reporting directly to the Prime Minister. To prepare for this conversation, he did a thorough reading of the hard copy edition of Shri Malhotra’s recent book, “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Power”, and also used Kindle searches for deeper dives, in the words of Shri Malhotra. Again in his own words, the two discuss “the inadequacy of privacy laws relying on anonymity and physical location of data servers; sentiment analysis of group psychology; intellectual property rights developed using anonymous data; modelling specific communities; big data laws versus implementation.”
    They raise complex questions like, Is data democracy real or asymmetric? The nature of swarm intelligence and gamification. Should India focus on engineering design rather than domestic manufacturing, Is not the Military-Industry-Academics Complex a key strength of USA and China? Do AI reports on India tend to be elitist from top-down view only?

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