The Dharma of AI

The posthumanities approach to an ethics for artificial intelligence takes us to Indian ethics. It is because Indian metaphysics is not anthropocentric as we can find in the West. But some of us may say Indian metaphysics is radically anthropocentric as it reduces everything to eschatological anthropology. This is so because the belief in the law of Karma makes everyone be born again as different living beings. Are those that are born again in different birth cycles human beings? The answer is not so simple. All those that are born are atmans that remain in the bondage of different bodies of living beings at different levels of the birth cycle. This indicates that Indian anthropology is atman-logy/atmology. It is atman in search of moksha. Hence, I refer to it as eschatological anthropology or atmology in search of salvation.

As an atmology/atman-logy, Indian anthropology is a post-humanity. Although the Indian quest for moksha appears to challenge every atman to reach a brahminical singularity to reach moksha, one can see that atman trapped at different levels of birth cycles have different dharmic requirements to be born again to the next level that would bring the bonded atman closer to bhraminical singularity and thus, achieve moksha from samsara or birth cycle. We can deduct this from the notion of dharma. Atman at different levels of bondage has different dharma both to arrive at the intermediate as well as its final moksha. This post-humanity ethics can only be deducted but is not clearly articulated as ethics for atman trapped at different levels of transmigration. This articulation of course is not needed otherwise it will become purely anthropocentric. Each atman at its specific level of bondage has specific dharma which cannot be articulated from other levels including the Brahminical singularity.

When it comes to artificial intelligence, it is left to humans first of all to design it responsibly. Besides, we have argued that artificial intelligence is to some level conscious and as such is morally responsible. Hence, humans as inventors of artificial intelligence have the duty to inscribe an ethical code which is dynamic and enables it to make morally responsible decisions. Now to develop the moral code, we can draw inspiration from dharmic traditions that will bring insight into the designing of ethical code for AI working at different levels. Thus, we have the challenge to design the dharma of each intelligent machine. Thus dharmic lens does have the promise that can assist us to develop ethical codes for artificial intelligence.

The Jaina tradition from among the dharmic faiths, along with Buddhism is best suited to help us develop ethical codes for artificial intelligence. Jaina nonviolence and detachment and Buddhist compassion along with the Hindu Karuna offer us possible pathways to develop ethical codes that will enable artificial intelligence to live its dharma. In fact, ethical care and compassion based on mercy, and nonviolence will instil the principle of unharming into the working of artificial intelligence. Thus, each artificial intelligence will be enabled to live its dharma at the level it interacts with humans.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao