The Mindfulness Blog

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A Wake-Up Call

A couple days ago, my website was visited by someone employed by an international proponent-- and builder of-- artificial intelligence ("AI"). At first, I was intrigued by the discovery, in a positive way. After sleeping on it, however, I've been terrified by the implications.

A few waking hours later, I'm hopeful that the dust will settle, and my alarm will resolve itself in a manner that is less alarmist-- something more equanimous. Until then, however, I'm listening to the little voice sounding the alarm, by striking (or writing) while the proverbial iron is still hot.

Why would anyone who believes in a future that is populated by AI, be interested in mindfulness or meditation? Perhaps the contact was initiated by a mindless bot, scouring the web for sites publishing content that can be counted, recorded and made accessible for future scrutiny-- perhaps, the incident was nothing more than that.

But what if the contact was initiated by a person, and what if that person's interest was driven by a private concern about some aspect of AI? Like it's lack of morality, or lack of reflection, or lack of humanity? Before I talk myself of the ledge, those are the kind of thoughts my mind is thinking-- and they keep recurring.

I've been observing those thoughts with curiosity and letting them pass, but they keep popping up. As a result, I'm left with little alternative but to contemplate those thoughts, because my mind insists that I do so. Sometimes, meditation doesn't quite do the job. I used to fight recurring thoughts (I still try to allow them an opportunity to run their course) but sometimes, my mind just insists on having a think.

And sometimes, my thoughts compel me to act-- that's something that we humans do, and in that instance I strive to respond, rather than react.  I try to balance my action, with as much equanimity as I can muster.

I'm already feeling a bit better about things. Maybe equanimity can be programmed into AI?


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