Bill Duane & Elizaveta Solomonova PhD join Mirabai for a chat about the intersection of ancient Buddhist wisdom and cutting-edge A.I. technology.
Bill Duane blends 12 years at Google and 10 years of consulting experience in healthcare, manufacturing, finance, telecom and media with studies in neuroscience, team effectiveness, mindfulness and the latest in well-being science. Elizaveta Solomonova PhD is an interdisciplinary cognitive scientist focusing on sleep, dreaming, contemplative studies and social neuroscience, who teaches Psychiatry at McGill University. Together they are integrating Buddhist Philosophy, Cognitive Science, & Artificial Life at The Center for the Study of Apparent Selves hosted by Kathmandu University’s Centre for Buddhist Studies.
Buddhism & A.I. // (Re)Designing Minds
Welcoming Bill Duane and Elizaveta Solomonova PhD to the show, Mirabai invites them to share on the work they are doing with Kathmandu University’s The Center for the Study of Apparent Selves, integrating Buddhist Philosophy, Cognitive Science, & Artificial Life. From here, they reconcile and integrate Buddhist concepts, like compassion, with emerging A.I. (artificial intelligence) technology.
“This project is aspirational and looping back into an understanding of our own minds by designing a mind. It’s a very curious and interesting challenge to integrate Buddhist philosophy into the potential artificial beings we can design or embed within frameworks and taxonomies that come from Buddhist Philosophy. Because in some way, through Buddhist practices, that’s what we do—we’re trying to redesign our own minds.” – Elizaveta Solomonova PhD
Buddhist Master, Mingyur Rinpoche discusses the neuroscience of meditation, on Ep. 82 of the BHNN Guest Podcast
Programming Compassion // Translation Work // Biology & Evolution (14:14)
Contemplating the heady questions— What would compassion look like in a non-organic entity? And how would one train it?— Bill relays how the best teachers are biology and evolution. Examining the Buddhist concept of Dukkha (suffering/stress) through the lens of biology (which translates stress as when you don’t have what you think you need; non-homeostasis) he shares how so much of bridging ancient Buddhism with cutting-edge technology is actually a matter of translation work.
“If we could train a being—organic or non-organic—to cast it’s view of ‘what do I care about?’ to be wider; and therefore would view the impacts of its decisions as not, ‘I’m helping myself and hurting others,’ but if you expand that circle of care a little bit you say, ‘I’m hurting myself.’ … What we’re thinking about is, ‘How might we increase the perception & intention of a being so that circle is wider and therefore it pursues strategies of alleviating stress that’s more of a global optimization versus local?'” – Bill Duane
“What would it be like to design a being that doesn’t have to unlearn the kind of individualistic or very knee-jerk reaction view of oneself, but perhaps sees themselves as part of more than one thing?” – Elizaveta Solomonova PhD
Learn about Google Empathy Lab – merging Ram Dass’ compassion with A.I. technology, on Ep. 393 of Mindrolling
Bodhisattva A.I. Agents // Toy Universes // Expanding Care Infinitely (25:25)
Speaking to the budding technology of programming ‘Toy Universes,’ populating them with ‘Artificial Intelligence Agents,’ and watching the models grow over various simulated timespans; Bill contemplates what it would be like to populate these universes with ‘Bodhisattva A.I. Agents’ – beings who could expand their care infinitely.
“If we think about compassion, or Karuṇā—described in the Suttas as the ‘quiver of the heart in relationship to suffering— What if you didn’t have a heart? Of course, the heart is a metaphor for our emotion-state. What would it be like if you didn’t see with your eyes? Or feel with your skin? Or your sense of self didn’t stop at your skin? What if your primary drives in relation to suffering weren’t fight-flight-freeze? What if a being had a different set of basic survival heuristics? Watching that, what can we learn about our own?” – Bill Duane