Bridging Buddha’s Teachings and Artificial Intelligence

If artificial intelligence promotes a different religion, it could pose a threat to Buddhism, so it’s crucial to consider this possibility.

2 mins read
[Illustration based on Buddha Statue]

Today, the world is confronted with a significant threat posed by climate change. The unprecedented intensity of sunlight we’re experiencing is unlike anything we’ve encountered before. We find ourselves in a challenging situation that requires focused efforts to mitigate climate warming. Additionally, we’re grappling with a substantial water scarcity issue. It’s essential to approach these challenges in alignment with the teachings of Buddha.

In the next two or three decades, climate change will emerge as one of the primary global challenges. According to Buddha’s teachings, this issue stems from civilization’s greed for rapid progress. The widespread desire for advancement has led to increased vehicle usage, resulting in significant environmental damage. Consequently, human society has inflicted considerable harm on the environment. Hence, it’s crucial to prioritize efforts to control climate change.

Today, the world is witnessing rapid technological advancements. Despite initial beliefs after the atomic bomb explosion in 1945 that technological progress might cease, there has been significant advancement across all sectors. Particularly, the IT sector has seen remarkable progress. During our school days, computers and mobile phones were non-existent, but with modern technological advancements, we now have access to Artificial Intelligence.

We are currently at the dawn of Artificial Intelligence, prompting questions about its trajectory over the next two decades. It’s essential to explore the relationship between artificial intelligence and Buddhism.

Buddha’s teachings emphasize the power of our minds in shaping our lives. By mastering our minds, we pave the way for progress; failure to do so leaves us with no future. This message was specifically intended for humanity, highlighting the importance of controlling our minds to overcome desires.

Now, artificial intelligence (AI) mirrors the capabilities of the human mind. AI can process vast amounts of information and operate accordingly. Therefore, it’s pertinent to explore the connection between Buddha’s teachings and AI, considering their shared focus on the mind’s control and its implications for our actions.

If artificial intelligence promotes a different religion, it could pose a threat to Buddhism, so it’s crucial to consider this possibility. Throughout history, Buddhism in Sri Lanka has been influenced by Hinduism, Mahayana and political influences. With the emergence of artificial intelligence, it adds another layer of influence. Therefore, we must contemplate whether AI might propagate alternative doctrines.

It’s essential for people to contemplate the implications of integrating Dhamma with the mobile devices they use. This issue extends beyond Buddhism to other religions as well.

Hence, we are implementing new regulations to oversee artificial intelligence. The Ministry of Technology has drafted legislation for technology development, including plans to establish an artificial intelligence centre. Countries like the United Kingdom and the European Union have already enacted laws to govern artificial intelligence, and we must follow suit.

Moreover, there are plans to allocate LKR 01 Billion next year for research on the interconnection between Buddha’s teachings and artificial intelligence. Although originally slated for this year, the initiative has been deferred to next year due to pending laws and regulations concerning AI oversight. Consequently, we anticipate introducing new legislation to kick-start these endeavours.

Ranil Wickremesinghe

Ranil Wickremesinghe is a Sri Lankan politician who is the current president of Sri Lanka since 21 July 2022. He also holds the position of Minister of Finance of Sri Lanka. He has been the leader of the centre-right United National Party since 1994.

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