AI: What is a sentient being?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
User avatar
Ceisiwr
Posts: 10507
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: United Kingdom

AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Greetings everyone,

As we know, AI research is currently on going. If, one day, AI becomes a reality would said intelligence be classed as a sentient being in the Dhamma? Also, for orthodox views, would it also be subject to kamma and rebirth? What are the bare requirements needed to be classed as a sentient being?

Metta

:)
Last edited by Ceisiwr on Thu Apr 30, 2020 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood.”


Dhotakamāṇavapucchā
SteRo
Posts: 3859
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:27 am
Location: अ धीः

Re: AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by SteRo »

Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word 'chariot' is used,
So, when the aggregates are present,
There's the convention 'a being.'
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .bodh.html
Exhaling अ and inhaling धीः amounts to བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ It's definitely not science but science may provide guidelines nevertheless.
rolling_boulder
Posts: 294
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:01 am

Re: AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by rolling_boulder »

Citta, perhaps,

Or, intention....

Hard to say really...
The world is swept away. It does not endure...
The world is without shelter, without protector...
The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind...
The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.
User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 9406
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by DooDoot »

Ceisiwr wrote: Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:42 pm sentient being
Where is the above Mahayana term found in Pali? Does the Pali have the term 'vedayatīti-sañjānātīti-satta'?

:shrug:
sentient
/ˈsɛntɪənt,ˈsɛnʃ(ə)nt/
Learn to pronounce
adjective
able to perceive or feel things.
"she had been instructed from birth in the equality of all sentient life forms"
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati
SarathW
Posts: 14931
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by SarathW »

Ceisiwr wrote: Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:42 pm Greetings everyone,

As we know, AI research is currently on going. If, one day, AI becomes a reality would said intelligence be classed as a sentient being in the Dhamma? Also, for orthodox views, would it also be subject to kamma and rebirth? What are the bare requirements to be classed as a sentient being?

Metta

:)
I would say "yes" if they have the perception and feelings.
They also have kamma and rebirth as they were born spontaneously.
Buddhism acknowledges.
There is a strong possibility that many of us will be reborn in a lab in the future!
Even though they were created in a lab they were the beings passed away from another reality.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
whynotme
Posts: 650
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:52 am

Re: AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by whynotme »

Ceisiwr wrote: Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:42 pm Greetings everyone,

As we know, AI research is currently on going. If, one day, AI becomes a reality would said intelligence be classed as a sentient being in the Dhamma? Also, for orthodox views, would it also be subject to kamma and rebirth? What are the bare requirements needed to be classed as a sentient being?

Metta

:)
Never ai will be sentinel being. The lack of consciousness, as AI is pure material. It is a car, a house, a computer, it lacks awareness.

Maybe a soul (loose meaning) can possess a machine if the interface is appropriate, bc afterall, human body is just a machine. But that doesnt mean a sentinent is being created. Consciousness can not be created by mere material
Please stop following me
beanyan
Posts: 288
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2020 12:21 am

Re: AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by beanyan »

Ceisiwr wrote: Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:42 pm Greetings everyone,

As we know, AI research is currently on going. If, one day, AI becomes a reality would said intelligence be classed as a sentient being in the Dhamma? Also, for orthodox views, would it also be subject to kamma and rebirth? What are the bare requirements needed to be classed as a sentient being?

Metta

:)
Based on digha nikaya 23 its a soul. Mic drop.
User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 9406
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by DooDoot »

beanyan wrote: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:28 pm Based on digha nikaya 23 its a soul. Mic drop.
Please quote the relevant passage. Thanks
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati
User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 3420
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by Coëmgenu »

Depending on how good the designers of the AI get at mimicking biological brains, they could potentially design a non-mind that is all vitarka and no vicāra as an intermediary stage before designing a mechanical human being.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
santa100
Posts: 4494
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by santa100 »

Ceisiwr wrote:If, one day, AI becomes a reality would said intelligence be classed as a sentient being in the Dhamma?
Sentient being is just a label, so it doesn't really matter it could be applied to AI or not. So depending on how far/advanced AI is in terms of "self-awareness", guess there's nothing wrong with calling them non-organic/non-carbon-based partially-sentient beings, as in contrast to organic/carbon-based sentient beings.
Pali dict. wrote:Satta: 'living being'.

This term, just like attā, puggala, jīva, and all the other terms denoting 'ego-entity', is to be considered as a merely conventional term (vohāra-vacana), not possessing any reality-value.

For the impersonality of all existence. s. anattā, paramattha, puggala, jīva, paticcasamuppāda.
Also, for orthodox views, would it also be subject to kamma and rebirth?
Now we're talking about the Orthodox view, which only recognizes the 6 main realms of existence, and their 31 planes, so AI is un-charted territory. Anyway, depending on how advanced AI is with its "self-awarness", ie. is it behavior still being fully controlled and programmable by its human designer? or it's self-awared enough to make a conscious choice between good or evil actions all by itself? If it's the former, then whatever it does, good or evil, the kamma still falls on its human designer (since he programmed it to do such things); but if it's the latter, then itself will bear the kammic consequence, for afterall, kamma is one's own conscious volitional actions.
User avatar
Kim OHara
Posts: 5388
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by Kim OHara »

DooDoot wrote: Thu Apr 30, 2020 8:57 pm
Ceisiwr wrote: Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:42 pm sentient being
Where is the above Mahayana term found in Pali? Does the Pali have the term 'vedayatīti-sañjānātīti-satta'?

:shrug:
sentient
/ˈsɛntɪənt,ˈsɛnʃ(ə)nt/
Learn to pronounce
adjective
able to perceive or feel things.
"she had been instructed from birth in the equality of all sentient life forms"
This issue was discussed on DW fairly recently (a couple of months ago?) and Dhammanando (if I remember correctly) pointed out that it was, as you suggest, a Mahayana formulation which was not found in Theravada sources.

So we don't need to worry about it :smile: and the OP might get a better response on DWM.
I wasn't going to worry about it anyway, since it's all hypothetical and I have enough real questions to keep me busy.

:namaste:
Kim
User avatar
DNS
Site Admin
Posts: 13638
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, Estados Unidos de América
Contact:

Re: AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by DNS »

Ceisiwr wrote: Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:42 pm As we know, AI research is currently on going. If, one day, AI becomes a reality would said intelligence be classed as a sentient being in the Dhamma? Also, for orthodox views, would it also be subject to kamma and rebirth? What are the bare requirements needed to be classed as a sentient being?
It's a good thought experiment, in my opinion. It's similar (if not identical) to the Philosophical Zombie debate in philosophy.
User avatar
Ceisiwr
Posts: 10507
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Kim OHara
This issue was discussed on DW fairly recently (a couple of months ago?) and Dhammanando (if I remember correctly) pointed out that it was, as you suggest, a Mahayana formulation which was not found in Theravada sources.
Ah, that’s interesting. Still, change it to “being” or “living being” and my question is still the same. How would AI be viewed in the Dhamma? I’m asking this to the wider audience of course, since you aren’t interested.
it was, as you suggest, a Mahayana formulation which was not found in Theravada sources.
Perhaps a perfection of wisdom? ;) :spy:

:jumping:

Metta

:)
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood.”


Dhotakamāṇavapucchā
User avatar
Dhammanando
Posts: 5759
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Mae Wang Huai Rin, Li District, Lamphun

Re: AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by Dhammanando »

Ceisiwr wrote: Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:42 pmAs we know, AI research is currently on going. If, one day, AI becomes a reality would said intelligence be classed as a sentient being in the Dhamma?
Only if the entity were to be animated by the mental continuum of a just-deceased saṃsāric being. Otherwise it would be merely matter without consciousness (aviññāṇaka rūpa), like a rock or a plant, no matter how impressive the tricks it's been programmed to do. ("For lack of a gandhabba / HAL's no more sentient than rubber," as William Wordsworth might say).
Ceisiwr wrote: Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:42 pmAlso, for orthodox views, would it also be subject to kamma and rebirth?
By definition it would have to be subject to them to count as a "saṃsāric being" (a more descriptively accurate translation of satta than "sentient being").
What are the bare requirements needed to be classed as a sentient being?
The entity must be heir to a past saṃsāric continuum in which ignorance and craving were not extinguished.
Anabhirati kho, āvuso, imasmiṃ dhammavinaye dukkhā, abhirati sukhā.

“To not delight in this dhammavinaya, friend, is painful; to delight in it is bliss.”
(Sukhasutta, AN 10:66)
User avatar
DNS
Site Admin
Posts: 13638
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, Estados Unidos de América
Contact:

Re: AI: What is a sentient being?

Post by DNS »

Dhammanando wrote: Fri May 01, 2020 3:03 am Only if the entity were to be animated by the mental continuum of a just-deceased saṃsāric being. Otherwise it would be merely matter without consciousness (aviññāṇaka rūpa), like a rock or a plant, no matter how impressive the tricks it's been programmed to do. ("For lack of a gandhabba / HAL's no more sentient than rubber," as William Wordsworth might say).
I agree with this. And these thought experiments, like the philosophical zombie not having consciousness, refute the complete materialism / physicalism position, imo.
Post Reply