March 4, 2024
SF Gate

Should AI Take Advice from Lord Krishna?.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

By Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, FRCP

Both sides who engage in AI prophecy, those who fear catastrophe and those who see a new reality emerging, must concede that no one knows the capacity of AI, not even its inventors. Machine learning has crossed a threshold. Instead of learning by mechanically shuffling around information, AI’s software allows it the freedom to learn on its own without specific instructions.

Having crossed this threshold, two startling developments have emerged. One is the phenomenon known as hallucinations, when an AI gives false answers invented out of whole cloth. The other is totally unpredicted achievements, as when AI is programmed to learn one language and masters another on its own.

But the ultimate mystery is about consciousness. The “artificial” in artificial intelligence poses a major restriction. Machines cannot have experiences, and therefore their relationship to real life is artificial. Consider the example below.

Deepak: Do you know what it feels like to fall in love?

ChatGPT: As an artificial intelligence, I don’t have personal experiences or emotions like humans do.

AI, as you can see, is programmed to report on its limitations, yet an answer was still forthcoming.

ChatGPT: Falling in love often involves a range of intense emotions such as joy, excitement, happiness, and a sense of connection with another person. It can also involve feelings of vulnerability, longing, and sometimes even anxiety. People often describe it as a powerful and transformative experience that can deeply impact their lives.

This answer echoes the input of human beings, but an unscrupulous use of an AI chatbot could simply say, “I feel a range of intense emotions.” Who would know the difference?

This is a critical question, because the most famous test of machine intelligence, the Turning Test, is all about illusion versus reality. The test basically posits that if a computer can answer questions in such a way that you can’t tell they didn’t come from a human being, the machine is de facto intelligent.

But this could be seen as pure deception. In Cyrano de Bergerac, the hero is too shy to plead his love, and a standby takes his place to woo the beloved. This makes for good romantic comedy. In real life, the Turing Test uses a mechanical standby to speak with the voice of a human being. This will never be the equivalent of being conscious.

The reason was stated centuries ago in the Bhagavad Gita when Lord Krishna declared, “I am the field and the knower of the field.” In Sanskrit, the word “field” applies to the field of battle, but the deeper meaning is that Lord Krishna doesn’t simply know about the field of consciousness; he is the field. Just as importantly, this describes the divine spark that exists inside human beings.

Science can reconcile this passage with the modern concept that places the origin of physical reality in the quantum field. Ripples in the quantum field interact to form patterns that give rise to subatomic particles, atoms, molecules, and the higher levels of physical creation. But such a materialist/physicalist view doesn’t bring us closer to why we are conscious beings while stars, galaxies, black holes, etc. aren’t.

Moreover, there are the illustrious quantum pioneers who threw cold water on the whole notion that the mind can be reduced to interacting chemicals in the brain.

Max Planck: “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

By implication, Planck is saying that no mechanical means can actually lead to consciousness, because consciousness isn’t made up of parts. It just is.

Erwin Schrödinger: “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”

This underscores the fact that consciousness is only itself, not a combination, however complex, of any building blocks.

Niels Bohr: “Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real. If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.”

This is the most baffling quote because Bohr is saying that anything we conceive of as real has its origin in something we cannot conceive.

If these declarations bring us close to Lord Krishna’s meaning, the final step was taken by Schrödinger. “Consciousness is a singular that has no plural.” In other words, there is only one field of consciousness, and beyond the feeling of being an individual with a separate mind, we all belong collectively in this one field.

I’m not arguing that AI should simply give up trying to display conscious thought and behavior. If bots can already write novels and screenplays, for all practical purposes that’s good enough as a simulation of consciousness. No one can predict how far AI developers will go towards claiming that they have created a truly conscious machine.

The point is not to lose confidence in what it means to be human. We participate in an eternal, unchanging, infinitely creative field. It doesn’t even matter whether you call it consciousness. The ancient Vedic rishis of India simply called this eternal essence “That.” They were nodding to the inconceivable nature of our origin.

With more than a touch of irony, AI was born out of the creative potential in the field, and now machines are looking back at their own origins with ever-increasing knowledge. It must always be remembered that the highest values of the human experience—love, compassion, insight, empathy, altruism, devotion, creativity, and every kind of spiritual experience—were not invented by us. They emerged from the field of consciousness; we evolved to understand and value them.

That’s far from an abstraction. As long as collective consciousness is based on the field of pure consciousness, we have access to infinite possibilities. No matter what global challenges face us—and I’m not predicting their outcome—creative thinking can solve them. The downward pull of anger, hostility, fear, and uncertainty has always existed, but it has never triumphed over higher consciousness, and never can. That’s a credo worth dwelling on and accepting because it leads to the level of solutions that lies deeper than the level of problems.

DEEPAK CHOPRA MD, FACP, FRCP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation.  Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego, and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution for the last thirty years. He is author of the forthcoming book, Digital Dharma: How to Use AI to Raise Your Spiritual Intelligence and Personal Well-Being. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.”

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