Re: Zen and the Singularity

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sun Jun 30 2002 - 20:41:21 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> OK Eli,
> Here is some straight poop for you
> I asked a Zen Buddhist abbot (one step up from a priest) whom I know
> your question, via e-mail.

I've always wanted to have a long talk with a knowledgeable Zen
practitioner one of these days. But I understand that it may be usually
required to spend a bit of time as a student before getting to talk to a
master, and alas, I have not the time.

However, I have already said that Zen is a special case. If Zen is a
way of looking at the world that is beyond desirability or
undesirability - much like science in that respect, I've always thought
- then within Zen a Friendly AI is not desirable or undesirable; it
simply *is*, whether the existence of a Friendly AI is a truth that
would be reflected in the internal experience of a Zen practitioner, or
an illusion to which no attention at all should be paid. A Friendly AI
might fully understand a Zen practitioner, but what would the
practitioner care?

The original question I asked was whether a Friendly AI, if a given
religion were true, would be able to jump to that despite being
programmed by atheists. If Zen as described above is true, the Friendly
AI doesn't even *exist*. So that still works out.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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