Kathmandu Invited Conference: Care as a driver of intelligence in humans and AI
The focus of the workshop
Bodhisattvas are traditionally conceived as evolutionary models of caring and insightful engagement that transcend the boundaries of species and understand organisms and their environments in terms of interdependence and mutual integration. This suggests that thinking in terms of bodhisattva agency might help us invent or discover novel ways of pursuing a`wholesome and powerful co-evolution of humanity, biotechnology, and AI.
Our workshop takes as its point of departure the dynamic feedback loop that arises between stress, care, and intelligence: Homeostatic stress manifests in the perception of a mismatch between current and more advantageous circumstances, noticing stress prompts caring concern for the alleviation of stress, and care drives intelligence, expanding the given agent’s ability to identify stress and the means for its alleviation. Finally, intelligence affords successful traversal of the current problem space, and so grants access to previously unnoticed stress dimensions. Such loops of stress, care, and intelligence are equally noticeable in biological, artificial, and hybrid intelligences and are hence not defined by the specificities of particular substrates.
If in this way intelligence is defined by engaged concern for problem solving then the apparent limits on a system’s intelligence can be broken by extending its sphere of concern. Buddhism teaches that an emerging bodhisattva makes this promise: “I shall achieve insight in order to care and provide for all beings, throughout space and time.” What happens to the sphere of concern of someone or something that accepts this pledge? Please join us in exploring questions such as these: Can the bodhisattva perspective suggest a new way of modeling intelligence? If so, could the cultivation of care provide a path to Artificial General Intelligence, and beyond? Might the bodhisattva’s commitment to all beings help us engage with current and newly emerging cognitive systems in a way that allows sustainable human flourishing, in synergy with diverse biological and non-biological intelligences? Can Buddhist concepts, such as bodhisattva agency, and their implications for the construction of new AI models, lead to a paradigm shift in AI and biotechnology that may enable us to better understand and achieve our deepest human potential? And in the simplest terms possible, what would it mean to accept responsibility for the flourishing of all forms of life?
The intended outcome of the workshop
In its classic conception, the bodhisattva is a model of activity and progress that is learned and studied for the sake of practical application. The model is, moreover, traditionally developed and applied in a way that successively distinguishes and brings together modes of cognition that can be described as conceptual or nonconceptual, basal or constructed. Bearing in mind the holistic and generative aspirations of the original bodhisattva model, we will seek to observe, explore, and evaluate both intellectual and experiential features of the bodhisattva framework with the guidance of a traditional expert. The aim is to become acquainted with the model in both intellectual and practical terms, and from both 3rd and 1st personal perspectives, thereby enhancing the potential for integration and evolution across otherwise separate technological, biological, or hybrid cognitive contexts. The workshop will combine immersive sessions of learning and contemplation with participant driven sessions of critical and creative explorations that will take an unconference format. In this way, our workshop will seek to gently unlock some of humanity’s timetested spiritual treasures within a constructive format that goes beyond dialogue and exchange. With a simple commitment to sincerity and open-mindedness, the workshop should allow all participants to explore, test, revise, and develop.
Our workshop aims to bring together a group of thought leaders from the spheres of biology, psychology, medicine, Buddhism, and the sciences of information and cognition to engage one another critically and constructively. Critically, because the recognition of conceptual opaqueness, operational weaknesses, or mismatches between aspiration and practice within one’s own community and its interfaces with human society and the global ecosystem will be explicit objectives. Constructively, because the aim of the workshop is to describe, critique, and model caring intelligences in ways that map to concepts in biology, Buddhism and cognitive science and are relevant for the development of AI.
Nov. 27th: Arrival at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport. Transfer to The Terraces Resort.
Nov. 28th: Acclimatization at The Terraces Resort.
Nov. 29th-30th: Care as the Driver of Intelligence workshop within the umbrella of the Global Scientific Conference on Human Flourishing. The Terraces Resort
Dec. 1st-4th: Care as the Driver of Intelligence workshop, continued. The Terraces Resort.
Dec. 5th: Conclusion of workshop and checkout from The Terraces at noon. Transfer to Kathmandu. Optional: Flight (35 mins) to Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha. Check in at Lumbini Hotel Kasai.
Dec. 6th: Optional: Visit to the Sacred Gardens and surrounding monastic and cultural zones.
Dec. 7th: Optional: Public event at the Lumbini International Convention Center. Return flight to Kathmandu in the late afternoon. Departure from Tribhuvan International Airport or overnight stay at the Hyatt Regency.