The Artificial Intelligence is still considered to be a technology of the future. However, the recent unpredicted developments in Artificial Intelligence like ChatGPT, have literally shaken up the scientific world and civil society. It has also raised prickly questions such as whether Artificial Intelligence would be used for unethical purposes or it could spell the end of the human intelligence. As we know, these are the questions concerning our scientific world and the onus is on the scientists who are expected to clear the air. But, having said that, majority of laymen like us fear that the AI may one day exceed human intelligence.
Taking a pedestrian view of Artificial Intelligence , it was hitherto considered as an organic development of extended human intelligence. Armed with science-technology and artificial intelligence, the homo sapiens has overcome his biological limits, seeking to change the laws of life and engineer inorganic beings. Envisaging a world where human intelligence ceases to exist, it is a Frankenstein moment for humanity where artificial intelligence creates supreme inorganic beings or data processors and overpowers the living beings. In this milieu, we have allowed ourselves to be manipulated by technology; delegated life-and-death decisions to algorithms. Decisions on our health, wealth and even mundane daily routines, which were once made by doctors, financial experts, and legion of service providers are now being decided and influenced by algorithms. While Artificial Intelligence-based algorithms contribute immensely to human progress, their unpredictability represents a great threat as well. The fantasy of Dr Frankenstein no longer remains as just fantasy as the age of human intelligence is nearing an end with the advent of ‘Dataism’, the Data Religion!
The data religion treats organisms as biochemical algorithms. According to author and historian Yuval Noah Harari, “Dataism thereby collapses the barrier between animals and machines, and expects electronic algorithms to eventually decipher and outperform biochemical algorithms.” The Dataism looms large over the human race as an existential threat, seeking to replace human intelligence with artificial intelligence. When the world is shifted from human-centric to data-centric, all data is processed and all decisions are made by a single central processor. This dystopian state, as Harari terms, is none other than Communism!
Though the onus of seeking a way out of this catastrophic self-destruction mode of technology is on the technocrats and the scientific community, it is pertinent for us to examine as to how this deviation occurred. The current scientific dogma, which Yuval Harari referred to, the fallacy of modern scientific expeditions trace its roots back to the ‘Cartesian Cogito Principle’ which is essentially dualistic in nature. It clearly distinguishes the nature of mind from that of matter, seeking to give a philosophical basis for modern science. Since the times of Rene Descartes, the modern science took a new direction. “The scepticism of Descartes reaches its limits and breaks against the intuitive certainty of self-consciousness: Cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I exist),” observes Dr S Radhakrishnan. Further he writes, “If the ‘I am’ depends on an ‘I think’, the ‘I think’ must also depend on another ‘ergo’, and so on, and it will land us in infinite regress.”
The fundamental problem lies in the compartmentalisation of knowledge and perceiving human being as a mere bio-chemical being, apart from a spiritual being. When the evolution of artificial intelligence poses an imminent threat to the human intellect, a possible solution as per Hindu worldview is exploring the gradations of the higher consciousness. In this regard, in Sri Aurobindo, we find the integration of ancient Hindu wisdom and modern science, which together can be called Evolutionary Spirituality that combines ‘philosophical brilliance and a profoundly enlightened consciousness’.
When the world is shifted from human-centric to data-centric, all data is processed and all decisions are made by a single central processor. This dystopian state, as Harari terms, is none other than Communism!
The founder of ‘integral spirituality and integral yoga’, Sri Aurobindo does not limit consciousness as mere intelligence. For Aurobindo, mind is only one level of the multi-level reality called consciousness. Two terms which he laid emphasis on, while explaining the progressive manifestation of Consciousness, are supermind and superman.
“At present mankind is undergoing an evolutionary crisis in which is concealed a choice of its destiny; for a stage has been reached in which human mind has achieved in certain directions an enormous development while in others it stands arrested and bewildered and can no longer find its way. A structure of the external life has been raised up by man’s ever-active mind and life-will, a structure of an unmanageable hugeness and complexity, for the service of his mental, vital, physical claims and urges, a complex political, social, administrative, economic, cultural machinery, an organised collective means for his intellectual, sensational, aesthetic and material satisfaction. Man has created a system of civilisation which has become too big for his limited mental capacity and understanding and his still more limited spiritual and moral capacity to utilize and manage, a too dangerous servant of his blundering ego and its appetites,” says Sri Aurobindo.
To prevent the Artificial Intelligence from taking over the control of human beings, a possible way out is to develop our human intelligence to the next level and explore the unlimited power of supermind. It simply means: elevating the human mind and intellect to higher levels and make it more powerful and wider than the machine intelligence.
According to Sri Aurobindo, “Supermind is a plane of perfect knowledge, that has the full, integral truth of anything. It is a plane that man can rise to, above his current limited mentality, and have perfect understanding through revelations and power that is leaning down on the earth’s consciousness. One can open to it, in order to transform the various aspects of one’s being, as well as set right the conditions of life, creating sudden good fortune (“instantaneous miraculousness”) for the person opening to it.”
According to Sri Aurobindo, full yogic development consists of two parts: the standard yogic goal of ascent into a formless and timeless self, and the descent and establishment of the supramental consciousness into Earthly life. Through integral yoga, one actualises the Supermind. The supramental consciousness transforms the entire being and leads to the divinisation of the material world.
The many gradations of mind, which the modern science and the authors of dystopian non-fictions fail to see, are ranging from Higher Mind through Illumined Mind, Intuition, and Overmind up to Supermind, which is in between Sachchidananda- the one who is above all the manifestation and the flux of the many in the manifested universe. “We call it supermind or the truth-consciousness, because it is a principle superior to mentality and exists, acts and proceeds in the fundamental truth and unity of things and not like the mind in their appearances and phenomenal divisions,” Sri Aurobindo explains it in The Life Divine.
Exploring the potential of human consciousness as taught by Sri Aurobindo and fulfilling the evolutionary intent and spiritual growth of life will bring out the best of human intellect that can supersede the challenges of artificial intelligence and modern days’ Frankenstein monster.