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by Patrick Groneman

The top thinkers in the world of Future Study, Transhumanism and advanced computer programming recently descended upon the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan for the Singularity Conference to discuss all things Artificial Intelligence.  The question on everyone’s mind was: “Will the Robots Kill us or Not?”

Many theories state AI becoming benevolent “higher beings”, others cite human programming error as the ultimate reason why AI will destroy us all.  My burning question of the day is “Will Artificial Intelligence Be Compassion Machines?”

In an ideal scenario a computer could be programmed to exclude the malfunction that allows humans to “short circuit”, what Buddhists call “attachment” to selfish action.  Getting stuck on ourselves makes us miss the fact that we are a part of a larger web of compounding actions.  AI could essentially be programmed to take Interdependence as a given, and never place its own self-preservation above that of others.

The flip side to that scenario is that the super smart robot computers may more clearly see the confusion and suffering perpetuated by humans and seek to eliminate us for our own good.  (Think how quick we are to call an exterminator to rid our homes of a cockroach infestation.)

A third scenario is that humans could so poorly program these machines that they aren’t even operating on the basis of compassion and just act out of self interest, leading to genocide and robot orgies.    

What do you think?  Will Robots awaken Bodhichitta?

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