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Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems

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Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems C4 Chaos 1/20/09 8:35 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Trent S. H. 1/20/09 12:12 PM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems C4 Chaos 1/20/09 2:22 PM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Vincent Horn 1/20/09 2:58 PM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Trent S. H. 1/20/09 4:17 PM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems triple think 1/20/09 6:02 PM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Hokai Sobol 1/21/09 2:57 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Hokai Sobol 1/21/09 3:16 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Vincent Horn 1/21/09 4:37 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems C4 Chaos 1/21/09 6:11 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Trent S. H. 1/21/09 9:37 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems C4 Chaos 1/21/09 9:54 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Hokai Sobol 1/21/09 10:31 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Trent S. H. 1/21/09 10:58 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Trent S. H. 1/21/09 11:01 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Hokai Sobol 1/21/09 11:37 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Chuck Kasmire 1/21/09 12:29 PM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Trent S. H. 1/21/09 12:44 PM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems C4 Chaos 1/21/09 2:21 PM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Chuck Kasmire 1/21/09 2:24 PM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Trent S. H. 1/22/09 1:20 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Hokai Sobol 1/22/09 1:22 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Hokai Sobol 1/22/09 1:47 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems C4 Chaos 1/22/09 5:02 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems C4 Chaos 1/22/09 5:07 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Vincent Horn 1/22/09 5:15 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Vincent Horn 1/22/09 5:37 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems C4 Chaos 1/22/09 6:39 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems triple think 1/22/09 10:55 PM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems triple think 1/22/09 11:02 PM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems beta wave 1/23/09 1:44 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems triple think 1/23/09 4:08 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems C4 Chaos 1/23/09 4:36 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems C4 Chaos 1/23/09 5:57 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems triple think 1/23/09 6:59 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Mark Lippmann 1/24/09 12:50 PM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Chris Marti 1/26/09 11:17 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems beta wave 1/28/09 3:15 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems Vincent Horn 1/28/09 8:00 AM
RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems tarin greco 2/1/09 1:38 AM
Forum: Practical Dharma

hi everyone,

i just finished listening to Buddhist Geeks interview with Shinzen Young. i thought Wilber, Wallace, and Ingram were already geeky but Shinzen takes the dharma geekiness up a notch emoticon if you haven't listened to the interview yet, please listen to it so that we'll have more context for this thread. here's the link:

http://personallifemedia.com/guests/1755-shinzen-young

first of, Shinzen Young is my ideal dharma teacher. i share his passion for integrating science, technology, and awakening.
the way he uses secular and scientific language appeals to me. it's my kind of kick-ass dharma emoticon

in the last part of the interview Shinzen shared his passion for using technology to make the experience of "classical enlightenment" available to everyone via "Expert System" (note: expert system is the term for Shinzen's home-based retreat program. it's a sub-field of Artificial Intelligence.).

i'm optimistic about it but i have my reservations. maybe because i have an aversion to automated customer support systems emoticon then again, i plan to give it a try one of these days to see it for myself.

in the meantime, here are my questions:

has anyone tried the Basic Mindfulness Home Based Practice Program yet? how effective was it compared to attending a regular retreat and sitting with a teacher?

what's your take on applying Expert System in particular, and technology in general, on speeding the delivery of "classic enlightenment" experience?

i'm in agreement with Shinzen that the convergence of neuroscience and *secularized* classical enlightenment teachings would radically alter our existence for the better. people like Alan Wallace and Sam Harris are already out there planting the seeds of Contemplative Science. Shinzen is trailblazing the path to the Science of Enlightenment.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
Answer
1/20/09 12:12 PM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
I listened to this a few days ago, and if I remember right, he was using "expert system" in a general IT way. I haven't really thought about the his "big idea" much, although I think his "completely non-secular" vocabulary will run into some problems. It may be non-secular linguistically, but what it leads someone to realize is a whole nother story, regardless of the way it's interpreted. Seems sort of Machiavellian to me, but who knows how it'll play out. Regardless though, I enjoy Shinzen's approach a lot. In fact, it was an article by him which first talked me into meditation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expert_system

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/20/09 2:22 PM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
Yabaxoule, thanks for clarifying the term "expert system." you are correct. Expert System is general term. it is a subset of AI.

you said: "...I think his "completely non-secular" vocabulary will run into some problems. It may be non-secular linguistically, but what it leads someone to realize is a whole nother story"

not sure what you mean. correct me if i'm wrong but i think you meant "secular" instead "non-secular". any specific problems you see with his approach?

the reason i brought up this topic is because i remember that even the Dalai Lama supports a more secularized approach to teaching the dharma. he even calls Buddhism as "science of the mind." from a non-dual perspective (conceptually speaking), the experience of enlightenment is content-free. and to quote Daniel Ingram: "Enlightenment is exactly the same regardless of the tradition one followed to attain it." so i think it's perfectly logical to come up a secular language when teaching the dharma to make it more compatible and acceptable to the scientific community (as well as to the general public).

Sam Harris put it succinctly,

"Needless to say, any truths uncovered about the human mind through meditation cannot be "Buddhist". And if meditation ever becomes widely adopted as a tool of science, it will be quickly stripped of its Buddhist roots. There are, after all, very good reasons we don't talk about "Christian physics" or "Muslim algebra". Physics and algebra are genuine domains of human inquiry, and as such, they transcend the cultural conditions out of which they arose."
(see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/a-contemplative-science_b_15024.html)

Shinzen Young is already doing what Harris is proposing. i believe that secularizing the dharma is a step in the right direction.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/20/09 2:58 PM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
Hi Mel,

This is a really interesting can of worms that you've opened here, regarding the secularizing the terminology of dharma. In large part, I do think that it can and should be done. While talking to Ingram recently he was musing on trying to do that himself. I think that this is a very profitable endeavor, one that could lead to a great deal more rational / universally-accepted language. The really great part though, I think, will be in using that new model (and language set) to then conduct experiments whose results would then feedback into evolving the theoretical models, assumptions, and language sets that you were used to construct this new secularized vocabulary. In this way we have an empirically evolving science of meditation, one that like other forms of scientific inquiry can be refined, made more powerful and precise, and go through major paradigmatic shifts in understanding. And as Shinzen brought up, this scientific paradigm for meditation becomes the foundation for the development of contemplative technologies that make the experience of "classical enlightenment" more achievable.

Here's to the emergence of a genuinely contemplative science!

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/20/09 4:17 PM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
My bad, I did indeed mean secular. I'll use an example to get at the point I was trying to make:

Christians make up a huge portion of the population, lets say 50%. Lets say 35% of Christians are "main stream," they go to church, possibly read some of the bible, say a few prayers now and again, and try to be a "good person" based on the moral ontology given to them. A large number of these Christians (whom I grew up with and went to church with!) believe in a "real heaven" and a "real hell" where you go if you do good or bad, and they believe Jesus is the "only son of God," and on and on.

Now...what do you think is going to happen when these people realize that we're all "sons and daughters of God," in the most literal sense and that even their autonomy is that suchness? What happens when they get realized and fruition shows them that metaphysics do not exist, and that there is no "other dimension" that you are transferred to on death? There are people who live, breathe and will die believing these things and if they're "tricked" into realizing their own ontology is bogus, there will be, at the very least, a few very depressed/screwed up people coming out of the process.

I am a firm believer that most people are not at all ready for realizing essential truth, and that is OK from both my real world and transcendent perspective. I think we should make steps toward helping all beings awake and etc. etc., but there is also a responsibility that comes in knowing what "the truth" is.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/20/09 6:02 PM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
I don't have any position on things like this, only reflections on observations. There will be those keen to maintain traditions which is beneficial because the west isn't finished the project of correctly interpreting and fully understanding the traditions. On the other hand there will be those who are keen to modernize or secularize the teachings and this has some benefits and is inevitable given the western mindset. For those who will proceed with this project I think it should be done with an awareness of the dangers. One need only look to other secularized institutions to see the nature of the new problems arising from such transfers of responsibilities.
I think the baby is more important than the bath water here. There is no getting away from the bath water through secularization, secularization has its own baggage. I see the merit of a continuation of the well considered evolution of traditions but I expect to see little more than the continuation of failures from attempts at a wholesale revision of dharma into something entirely secular but I think much will be learned in the process. To assume that secular institutions or western science is entirely rational/objective or not subject to the problems common to the human condition would be to contribute to an already huge blind spot in the western mindset.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/21/09 2:57 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
Indeed, this is an important and intriguing subject. "Classical enlightenment" though, exists in several variants, defined either through the details of realization itself, or through important interpretive distinctions. Anyway, in very general terms we can speak of a classical enlightenment to signify the core of all Buddhist awakenings and, also in a wider sense, of classical enlightenment to encompass the common ultimate realization as found in different traditions worldwide. As to what Shinzen Young is doing through technology, I'm all for it, but we SHOULD hold it distinct from "secularizing" the dharma. Again, even secularizing does not necessarily mean making it "not Buddhist". After all, spiritual realization is NOT like algebra and semiotics (or any other narrow science), in that it requires a shift in consciousness in a different direction than either cognitive or even psychological development. And yet, meditation can be pursued as a "deep science" of phenomenological strain.

Secularization is OK these days as a MINIMAL movement (and that's what Western Enlightenment entails), that is, those of us who already stand there should all aim at going BEYOND secularization. Giving rise to a post-rational Buddhism is only possible by embracing and then transcending rational Buddhism, and technology will certainly play an important part in that, but there will again be a post-rational 21 century Buddhism, just as there will be a post-rational 21 century Christianity. And even so, there will be broad agreement on important points between all post-rational practitioners, and a much greater degree of mutual recognition than it can ever be the case on earlier levels of spirituality. And thus the meaning of spiritual will keep shifting as we move into genuinely postmodern and beyond.

Will "expert systems" and similar tech replace a living mutuality? No, but it will do what DhO does.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/21/09 3:16 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
(cont.)

In addition, by making good quality instruction and guidance more accessible through tech, the excuse for less than qualified instructors will disappear, thus raising everyone's expectations from human instructors in terms of practical expertise, which is good, and also washing away gradually the secrecy surrounding some very basic instruction.

The second important thing is that Shinzen, as far I was able to familiarize myself with his approach, does his best to use key points of Vipassana, Zen, and Vajrayana paradigms, that is, to combine what is best and most effective in dealing with main obstacles at various points/junctures on the path, thus directly sabotaging the sectarian impulse and giving precedence to what really works for the person involved. This could be a great thing, though studying each tradition in itself remains a precious venue for those more involved and/or thus inclined.

This in a way reminds of the shift that happened when literacy was spreading along with printed books, and an ever widening circle could rely on themselves first of all in acquiring knowledge and methods. By democratizing the entry-level we provide best push to the mid-level and best motivation to the top-level. On condition that such movement is supported by institutional reform, it could actually work. Any thoughts?

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/21/09 4:37 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
Great points Hokai. I would like to respond to the question below, about whether "expert systems" and similar tech could ever replace living mutuality. I think right now, the answer is no, but as we look forward to the development of stronger AI systems there is a real chance that AI systems will eventually be consider "living," meaning we will interact with them as if they were alive because they will exhibit all the usual signs of a living, sentient intelligence. Now, whether or not they are actually conscious is up for debate, and perhaps can not be answered (and really, I can't prove that anyone besides myself is conscious). This may be pretty far off (or not), but I think when AI emerges we may end up with some pretty interesting dharmic relationships with AI Zen Masters. ;-D

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/21/09 6:11 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
great discussion guys. i appreciate you riffing with me on this one emoticon let's keep it going...

i understand some reservations on secularizing the dharma. i agree that there's always a risk of getting lost in translation, as well as the problem of people's interpretations (based on what level they're at; e.g. mythic, pluralistic, integral).

however, that's precisely the reason we need to develop a common *secular* lexicon for the dharma.
the more ambigious the language the more it's culturally charged (e.g. God, jhanas, Buddha-nature, Nirvana, etc.) the more people would have varying interpretations/delusions/projections about it.

take note that secularizing the dharma doesn't mean "killing" off its various cultural forms. those who are inclined can still go deep in studying Tibetan, Theravadin, Zen, etc. like studying a different language.

however, i think that the bigger goal of secularizing the dharma is to create a common/universal lexicon specifically for the scientific community, similar to mathematics and the language of physics (e.g. atom, molecules, quanta, etc.). this is similar to what Wilber has done with AQAL (quadrants, levels, lines, states, stages).

Shinzen is doing the same thing with the "Science of Enlightenment". he has created a lexicon of user-friendly language to describe the essence of the Buddhist practice. for example, Shinzen condensed the five aggregates into B-I-T (body, image, talk). see: http://www.shinzen.org/QA/QA_Archive.htm#A18

also check out this excellent interview wherein he explained the language he's using.
http://www.shinzen.org/MeditationTraining/SHINZEN_INTERVIEW_11_09.mp3

the more i listen to Shinzen, the more i believe that secularizing the dharma is the best way to increase its appeal, make it user- and technology-friendly, and compatible with mainstream science.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/21/09 9:37 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
To help clear up some of the doubts surrounding the validity of a system like this: as an IT professional, I can say that the current advances in expert systems are already very much able to radically help meditators and/or their teachers. Of course, that depends on the people and users behind the creation, but in a general technical sense, the actual technology is already being used. These systems are already used in amazing abundance in medicine and other very "sensitive" fields.

I think one thing that a system like this can do-- although I don't know if the functionality will be built in-- would be to help reform those "less than skilled" teachers that Hokai mentioned, and give them a guideline toward being a better teacher. In example: the system can give the teacher a sort of script or check-list to use, and then the teacher can also apply their knowledge; thus giving two complementary aides to the student. This can take the form of another type of system called a Decision Support System, which is similar--and sometimes hard to distinguish-- from an expert system. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decision_support_system

Found a good link about some of the basic inner workings of an expert system, for those interested: http://library.thinkquest.org/11534/expert.htm

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/21/09 9:54 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
Yabaxoule, excellent point! yes, it would be useful for teachers are well as students, the more the expert system is defined (e.g. through application, evaluation, trial and error, etc.).

as an IT person myself, i could definitely relate with the principles and applications of expert systems. however, i wasn't aware how effective this approach is to the science of enlightenment until i heard Shinzen's description and actual application.

then again, my gold standard for this is: can anyone, or has anyone experienced "satori" using purely (or mostly) an expert system?

i guess BuddhistGeeks can ask Shinzen this question in his next interview emoticon

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/21/09 10:31 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
As a matter of fact, and a matter of accident, people did satori using nothing and anything, but I guess what you mean is does expert system make you "accident prone"...:-) Your intention to use it surely makes you accident prone.

And also B-I-T (or body, image, talk) is an even more basic Buddhist thing, namely body-mind-speech, which we find everywhere as basis of e.g. Theravadan ethics (ten un/wholesome actions. i.e. three of body, four of speech, three of mind), Mahayana three kaya and three virtues (meditation, wisdom, compassion), and Shingon/Vajrayana three mysteries and sacred actions (mudra, intention/visualization, and mantra).

@ Yabaxoule - good points, a system such as this could definitely support and facilitate the development of a new cartography of stages with many different sub-stages and variants dependent on phase specific experiential responses and therefore simultaneously a quasi-public knowledge base, as well as an individualized, custom made set of instructions, pushing to improve outdated methods of teaching how to work with mind. Going through quasi-universal sequences will still be the approach to plunge the impersonal nature of most processes we meet in the course of cultivation. That is, there comes a point when one must rely on one's own intelligence and self-guidance, and there's no way around that.

@ Vince - how does vulnerability, trust and devotion arise in a relationship with AI (if that doesn't stand for Another Intelligence)? I found it's a precious component of the path to have a wakeful sentient being mirror your own sentience (and wakefulness). Yes, a reliable program sounds better than an unreliable human, but hey, this is not only about me getting the Big E, right?:-)

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/21/09 10:58 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
I never had a formal teacher, but turning these 3 and other similar feelings "inward" were extremely important in my practice. Do you think that sort of approach can be sufficient or leans more toward being anomalous? Or, perhaps, both is ideal...

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/21/09 11:01 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
Err forgot a part of my point: if turning those feelings inward is sufficient, the AI system should be able to coach that, given the meditator has confidence in the credibility of the "coach."

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/21/09 11:37 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
Well, yeah, I dig the inward turn of these three, but you can only do that if they're indeed "feelings". However, I was referring to the whole gestalt of a relationship, one that we simply cannot replicate on our own. I guess this might be going too far, perhaps, because the purpose of this or any other AI system is not to be all things to all people, obviously. As it is, we need all these variants and more to be whole humans, and then new options keep emerging, right? That is, we'd better figure out how to do it with ourselves, with real others, with virtual self/selves and others, and even without any reference point at all. Hence, each of these dimension has its unique virtues and potential shadows. Plus, at core, none of them is reducible to any other.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/21/09 12:29 PM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
How do you secularize aspects which are trans-rational, trans-personal? Things get sticky. Part of what Shinzen Young does is go 'poly non-secular' in an effort to deal with these things – linking together terms from different religious teachings - effectively delinking them from any one teaching while showing their universal potential.

That being said, many of the core Suttas related to the practice seem pretty secular to me – though not particularly clear or accessible. I suspect that the wording used by Buddha was quite accessible to his audience at the time and that the difficulty stems more from the difficulty of translating the Pali terms into clear English - compounded by some earlier translations that used religious terminology. I see Shinzen Young as trying to rewrite these instructions in an accessible western style – which is really needed.

As for terminology: Judging from the many different English words we use for a given Pali term (ex: Dukkha – stress; suffering; pain; distress; discontent; unsatisfactoriness)- it might make sense to use the Pali terms and provide detailed clear descriptions of what these words are pointing to (both experientially and framework wise). This frees us from using charged English words – and would seem similar to how we use Latin and Greek in scientific terminology.

One thing that Shinzen Young spoke of in the interview is the success he had with individual guided meditation instruction that led him to come up with the AI concept. This kind of approach, regardless of the delivery medium used, has some real potential. Structured, open, clear personal guidance could really give people a boost in their practice and could, for example, be delivered locally along the lines of how yoga teachers, counselors, psychologists, etc., provide their services already.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/21/09 12:44 PM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
Chelek, relating the example of Latin/Greek in scientific terminology helped me see a very awesome aspect of this I had not considered. Cool. Here's a charged word I could do without: enlightenment. Haha. Question-- what do you mean by "trans-rational" and "trans-personal?"

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/21/09 2:21 PM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
CheleK said: "This frees us from using charged English words – and would seem similar to how we use Latin and Greek in scientific terminology."

good point! i was thinking about this too. alternatively, we can use original words in their native language or derive new words based on the etymology of the original language. then again, this would require more work and new terminologies making them less user-friendly compared to using simple English. since English is essentially has become the "universal" language of Science (e.g. in physics force, mass, acceleration, energy, etc.) then it makes better sense to use simple English rather than the original language.

another issue with using native language is the possible conflict with tradition. for example, why use Pali instead of Sanskrit? why use Japanese instead of Tibetan? at least there's more common ground if English is used.

my two cents.
the

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/21/09 2:24 PM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
Yea, 'enlightenment' is definitely one of them! By trans-personal: “unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness“ and by trans-rational I am (hopefully correctly) referring to the nature of insight and awareness that arise in the awakening process.

So, in other words, how do we secularize aspects of awakening that are traditionally seen as the domain of religion or spirituality?

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/22/09 1:20 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
Ah, I see. I only wonder because when I see the word "trans-rational," it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I suppose it depends on what is meant by rationality, but rationality itself is (in my eyes anyhow) based upon a perspective or an understanding itself. Ergo, my girlfriend may sometimes seem very trans-rational, but she's pretty normal if you know a thing or to about psychology! Sure, that's a ridiculous example, but it's also fun and hopefully demonstrates what I am getting at.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/22/09 1:22 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
There is broad agreement in Buddhist circles that Sanskrit is the lingua franca of global 21st century Buddhism (but that's not on popular level, just like Latin is not a public Catholic language). But then of course, Western Buddhism is a subset of that where English will most likely be dominant for obvious reasons. Still, Europe will keep speaking in its one dozen main languages. But the linguistic barrier does not really exist in a multilingual situation, just as there's no problem with a multilingual Christianity. What we need, though, are clear and clean memes, which then filter into proto-linguistic semes and then presented through specific themes - it's not like we need a kindergarten vocabulary, it's instead an organic yet precise logic that allows efficient communication and distribution of complex and contextual notions. It's that which provides a common ground, not any one language.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/22/09 1:47 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
I think it's good to clarify one more important point. "Classical enlightenment" or authentic awakening consists in attaining right understanding, which won't arise from experience alone, but also from correct interpretation of experience, whether rooted in duality or rooted in non-relative clarity. Liberating knowledge, requiring a process of integration, is a fusion of non-conceptual apprehension and subsequently arisen understanding, and in that knowledge the View plays an important role at every step. One can only develop a View in the space of mutual understanding between two or more human beings. While a cleverly automated process could assist one in moving past early and naive obstacles in meditation, it can almost nothing to help one develop a useful interpretation of what just happened during that same process.

On a lighter note, this geeky hope and trust that we're eventually produce a machine to converse with arises basically from a distrust in humans, rooted in our own deeply ingrained confusion about the human condition. From this immature masculine impulse, the cold, detached machine - a virtual human meditation coach - somehow holds the promise of reliability and effectiveness and - lo and behold - even profound awakening! While it may be that basic meditation pointers can be delivered to people's homes much more efficiently, let us hold this in perspective. People need to meet other practitioners, discuss their experiences and work together with advanced practitioners to learn applying the view. Once you can get you mind still and limpid, iInterpretation is everything. Once you can recognize in realtime that nothing exists in separation, interpretation is everything. Real teachers should be more available, first of all, working 5 or 6 days a week, and moving around more frequently and providing follow up after every introduction, organize themselves in teams in networks etc.

Does this make sense?

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/22/09 5:02 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
this exactly what i mean by secularizing the dharma. Hokai just put it in a geekier way emoticon

secular dharma's appeal to mainstream is only secondary, the primary goal is to make the dharma compatible with science by using clearly defined language
which would lend itself well to the science, technology, and even mathematics.

the extreme example of this is Wilber's attempt at integral calculus. i view at as Wilber's way of making the dharma uber-geekier! emoticon

for those who are unfamiliar with Wilber's geeky integral calculus,
see: http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptC/appendix-B.cfm

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/22/09 5:07 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
then again, "correct interpretation" is ever-evolving. that's why the interpretation of classical enlightenment had evolved over millenia. i view subjective experience of classical enlightenment as fundamental while interpretation, for the most part, belongs to "Training in Morality" since it is rooted in duality (e.g. correct vs. wrong interpretation).

Hokai said: "...this geeky hope and trust that we're eventually produce a machine to converse with arises basically from a distrust in humans, rooted in our own deeply ingrained confusion about the human condition."

i think this is a limited way of viewing AI. in my view, resistance to the convergence of human sentience and technology is rooted in our own deeply ingrained fear of the "death" of the human species. for me, AI is Augmented Intelligence.

from a transhumanist perspective, i welcome any technology that extends and augments human sentience. technological acceleration would render the expert systems we have today as child's play. i can imagine, far into the future, that the convergence of neuroscience and the science of enlightment would result in machines or drugs that could instantly deliver the classical enlightenment experience. when that day comes, what then?

in the meantime, let's get our biological carbon-based asses on the cushion and do our best to practice with our preferred meditation technology emoticon

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/22/09 5:15 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
Just to respond to this point, though it may be slightly off topic, we mustn't confuse current narrow AI expert systems and biofeedback technologies with the potential technologies that could emerge in 10+ years. Artificial intelligence is making huge leaps and bounds, and there is the real possibility that a mature AI system could emerge in the coming decades. By mature AI I mean a strong AI that could fool us in pretty much every way--both in cognitive abilities, communication and listening skills, emotional subtleties, etc. In other words it could pass the Turing Test in pretty much every way we can consider ourselves human. If we were interacting with an AI of that sophistication it would not be cold, detached or machine like. It would seem absolutely human, perhaps in some ways even more so. There would be the opportunity for mutuality to arise, for genuine connection to arise, and for real learning to occur (both in dharmic terms and in other ways). Check out some of the Humanity+ authors to get some interesting perspectives on this possibility, and also tune into the most recent research in the area. You'd be surprised at how close we are to achieving completely convincing AI in several areas of human competency.

That being said, in the meantime I absolutely agree that human interaction is important. An expert system, at this level of it's development, is a compliment to the important things that can only come through human interaction. That being said, I honestly think there's a very good probability that we'll see this change in our lifetimes. The clear distinction between machine and human will likely drop away (as it already is), and what we'll be left with is a completely new, and perhaps radical way of growing and learning as intelligent lifeforms.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/22/09 5:37 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
And though some of the motivation behind the growth of technology could be pathological, as you mention, I think there are also very positive motivations behind these same technologies, including the desire to alleviate suffering, to reach beyond our current limitations, and to aid in the evolution of our species. I think we can agree that both sides are true, so lets not reject things off hand, because there is clearly a mix of both.

For those interested here are a couple really good introductory articles on the development of Artificial Intelligence from a Humanity+ perspective:

Artificial General Intelligence: Now Is the Time - by Ben Goertzel
http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0701.html?printable=1

The Intelligent Universe - by Ray Kurzweil
http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0534.html?printable=1

Kurzweil is one of the more well-known proponents of AI and rapid advances in information technology in general. Ben Goertzel is actively building AI systems and has a background in Zen Meditation. His perspective on AI is very interesting.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/22/09 6:39 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
Vince,

looks like we share the same passion with AI whether be it "Artificial Intelligence" or "Augmented Intelligence".

next time you have a chance to interview Shinzen Young, be sure to ask his take on Kurzweil's version of Technological Singularity. who knows, maybe Shinzen has his own pet theory for the technology singularity emoticon

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/22/09 10:55 PM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
What I feel we feel and are forced to cope with in the rush of our times is increasingly the heat of the future. There is increasing focus now on projection of, pre-anticipation of and planning for the future. Planing with an eye to change and making changes. A new kind of future present speeds forward. New conditions, emergent conditions arising and compounding. We can consider bringing the eye of wisdom to these growing forms of novel and emergent change occurring in the present times within these emergent future present orientations. What does an optimally prepared for future look like for us as kinds of trustees of truths to a range of degrees in the future oriented present? When thinking along these lines I attend to conservative impulses to balance my responses. I also think of monastics past planting oaks intended for replacing beams in structures 300 years later and other monastics cutting and placing these new beams, and also replanting.

A quality about the dharma I note is that it codes well in the media of space time with precision and fidelity and can withstand a fair degree of interference along with this transmission. Human beings have to do the decoding and re-encoding. We have universal constants, logic and the direct experiential connection with truth as a real time indication of our corporate and personal levels of progress and understanding. Dharma has efficacy which is immediate and discoverable. I'm pleased to see how much truth from dharma has been so well received and understood by so many in our times and the real effects this has on real people and the feedback into overall understanding. We benefit from the living dharma active in other people.
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RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/22/09 11:02 PM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
I also feel a survival impulse to save all in order to save oneself emerging with increasing urgency on a physical level. This has new correspondences to the understanding of our conditions and the real challenges we face as informed from the awakened perspective. Given the increasing pace and perils we have historically been creating, fleeing and are increasingly forced to address now any additional wisdom active within and upon the whole will matter quite a bit more than in the past. For all our wrongheadedness, as a species we are not unintelligent. The pools of intelligence existing today when harnessed and applied can do things that not only have never been possible before but may well be critically necessary. There are global processes which may be in need of awakened insights and transcendent perspectives. The modern and global culture has an energy that can be both beneficially and detrimentally powerfully influenced by skillful presentation. Is the skill of presentation in keeping with the best contemporary methods to the extents possible? Has it in many ways even been attempted? I don't know what structures will emerge but I see the ongoing emergence of networks of shared thought evolving in efficacy, both structured and dynamic, reflective and cultivating refinements.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/23/09 1:44 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
What I got from Shinzen Young's expert system was that it was a method for keeping someone on the cushion and actively meditating. It didn't quite seem like a technology for conveying the broader aspects of dharma.

I guess I'm on the skeptical side of this discussion. I have no doubt that humans can accelerate their intelligence, but wisdom seems a lot harder to come by. I can imagine systems teaching the venacular (secular or otherwise) of the dharma, but without the insights behind it, it becomes a belief system. Dharma would become dharmaism.

Even the allure of the singularity escapes me. It seems like a lot of what is living is the necessary "work" within the earthly framework of body, desire, and mind -- and finding transcendence in that framework at the same time. I'm just not sure how this would translate to the silicone existance. Does scarcity exist? Does struggle exist? What is this "you" that gets uploaded into the machine?

Hokai, your statement that the desire for AI "arises basically from a distrust in humans, rooted in our own deeply ingrained confusion about the human condition" was very interesting to me. At first it felt like a non-sequitor but I'm finding that concept a very provoking one -- and provoking beyond this discussion. Thanks for that!

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/23/09 4:08 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
When I think of expert systems I think of teamwork and networks of human specialists first and the communications platform second, only thirdly do I think of how automation can play a role. There ARE new conditions. New systems for communication. I see fora like this evolving a combination of traditional and innovative structures for instruction and guidance that have great potential benefits. I like much of Hokai's thinking along these lines. It makes good sense to me.

A global mindset appears to be more receptive to a reformed dharma stripped of opportunistic cultural accretions which traditional forms have causes and conditions to resist. Increasingly, present day issues have been skillfully addressed in new forms to higher standards which only then apply pressure to most all traditional institutions, not merely buddhist institutions. A shift from a strongly patriarchal position which easily associates itself with other traditional forms for example. Fresh forms of receptivity and resistance are being tested on many fronts. The global mindset can be informed introducing a global ethic informed by comprehensive human commonalities. The teachings are up to this task and are not at all nationalistic even if they have been appropriated by many historical iterations of cultural and nationalistic tendencies. There are many such opportunities under the emergent conditions.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/23/09 4:36 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
i agree. but that's precisely the intention of Shinzen's expert system: to get to the essence of the dharma and not it's myriad forms. in other words, the goal is to go deep in the heart of the dharma rather than wide!

Shinzen chooses his words and terms carefully. that's why he often uses the phrase "classical enlightenment". he defines this as:

"...knowing for sure that there never has been a thing inside you called self. Enlightenment is not a peak experience. It’s a permanent shift in paradigm that deepens day by day."

as it turns out, anyone who is interested enough could follow a very systematic process (or algorithmic process) to realize classical enlightenment. no need to master all the states, no need to master or be an expert on all forms of the dharma. this is exactly the core of what Daniel Ingram wrote about in MCTB. but Shinzen takes it up a notch by actually creating a secularized language and using technology to teach the *essence* of the dharma.

check out this interview with Shinzen for more details on his uber-rational approach: http://www.shinzen.org/shinsub3/artTricycle-Point.htm

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/23/09 5:57 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
btw, i think it's better to have a working example of "secularizing the dharma" rather than each of us projecting our own ideas on "secularization."

so here's a concrete example of how Shinzen Young is secularizing the dharma. see:

Getting the Lingo - http://www.shinzen.org/Retreat%20Reading/Getting%20the%20Lingo.pdf

5 Ways to Know Yourself - http://www.shinzen.org/Retreat%20Reading/5%20Ways%20To%20Know%20Yourself.pdf

reading the above PDFs, what are your objections or reservations to Shinzen's approach?
for me, i have nothing but admiration and gratitude to what Shinzen is doing. he's my ideal dharma teacher emoticon

my two cents.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/23/09 6:59 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
I appreciate the broader discussion of the longstanding dynamic interplay wihtin the emerging conditions beyond individual examples and modalities such as secular, scientific or mechanistic. I think a redefinition of needs and objectives has to precede redefined prescriptions of skillful means.

I will do my homework on Shinzen before formulating a response.

Does he or do others have new effective models and methods for investigating the dynamic internal arrangements of subjective and objective qualities or our perception of the knower and the known and penetrating to complete insights?

In this specific learning and teaching space how do we best respect and nurture engagement with profitable discussion and weed out distraction and speculation. When new themes emerge are new threads split and linked to these and how much tangential thought is acceptable under one heading? Who does or who can best arbitrate these things?

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/24/09 12:50 PM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
One of the things I like about Shinzen's work is his careful use of language. If you're super-fascinated with using language precisely (for writing and teaching), here are two dense-but-rewarding books:

Theory of Instruction: Principles and Applications by Engelmann and Carnine
Semantics: Primes and Universals by Wierzbicka

The first one was world-changing for me (on the scale of reading Wilber for the first time, stimulating thought about the Gigagloss appendix in Integral Spirituality), and the second one is uniquely thought-provoking.

I think these two books could help lay groundwork for translating dharma into secular language.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/26/09 11:17 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
"Kurzweil is one of the more well-known proponents of AI and rapid advances in information technology in general."

Hi Vince. FYI and apropos of nothing, I recently had the good fortune to meet and talk to Ray Kurzweil face to face at a conference. His ideas on the exponential nature of technology's growth are breathtaking and are based on very extensive research.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/28/09 3:15 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
I'm enjoying the irony that Goertzel suggests that creating a self is one of the keys to AI. This has been a interesting discussion!

"The mother of all patterns in an intelligent system is the self. If a system can recognize the coherent, holistic pattern of its own self, by observing its actions in the world and the world's responses to it—then the system can build a self, or what psychologists call a self-model. And a reasonably accurate, dynamically updated self-model is the key to adaptiveness, to the ability to confront new problems as they arise in the course of interacting with the world and with other minds.

And if a system can recognize itself, it can recognize probabilistic relationships between itself and various effects in the world. It can recognize patterns of the form "If I do X, then Y is likely to occur." This leads to the pattern known as will. There are important senses in which the conventional human concept of 'free will' is an illusion—but it's an important illusion, critical for guiding the actions of an intelligent agent as it navigates its environments. In order to achieve human-level general intelligence, a pattern-recognizing system must be able to model itself and then model the effects of various states its self may take—and this amounts to modeling personal will and causation."
...

"The trick of digital mind design, then, is not any particular way of representing, recognizing or enacting patterns: it's creating a pattern-recognition system, by hook or by crook, that can recognize some critical key patterns: self, will, reflective awareness. Once these patterns are recognized, then some critical recursions kick in and a mind can monitor itself, shape itself, improve itself."

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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1/28/09 8:00 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
@betawave: Yeah, his understanding of the important role of the self in a generally intelligent system is fascinating. It also jives with Daniel's perspective that enlightenment doesn't change any of the self-modeling that happens naturally in the brain/mind, but rather is the elimination of a misperception about that self-modeling being all that we are. So, really you could see it as a developmental unfolding where the emergence of self is important and then the seeing through of that construct as ultimately true (without interrupting the useful function that it serves, but instead perhaps enhancing it by reducing some of the fundamental dualistic noise that once permeated the system). Very cool stuff.

@cmarti : Ah, that's really cool that you had a chance to speak with Kurzweil. I'm with you that his ideas and his methodology are breathtaking. His work really opened my eyes to the transhumanist movement.

RE: Classical Enlightenment via Expert Systems
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2/1/09 1:38 AM as a reply to C4 Chaos.
'how does vulnerability, trust and devotion arise in a relationship with AI (if that doesn't stand for Another Intelligence)?'

i think experiences of AI in the coming decades will be quite strong and vivid experiences of intelligence that are much more like interacting with entities (like cooking with a group of friends or playing with a puppy) than manipulating objects (like using a computer or biofeedback machine) or paying attention to information media (like listening to a taped recording). in the near future, children won't even have a concept that AI could be, or were ever thought of as, barely entity-like instruments and tools. vulnerability, trust and devotion will characterise their relationships with their favourite AI systems. this is no mere flight of fancy.. i fully expect to live long enough to see these days.