RE: Zen singularity

From: mike99 (
Date: Mon Feb 23 2004 - 16:30:06 MST

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> Or, the AGI may come to the realization that both
> a) the very spiritually advanced humans
> b) ordinary human schmucks like us
> are experiencing the universe in very limited ways ... and
> pioneer entirely
> new ways of thinking, perceiving and understanding.
> I suspect that an AGI *will* one day experience the "great truths" of
> spirituality, and fully grok the state of mind of a spiritually
> enlightened
> human
> And I suspect that AGI's will also experience a hell of a lot of other
> interesting kinds of truths and mind-states, which no human -- however
> spiritually advanced -- has ever touched (or will ever)

Yes, I have little doubt that an AGI will eventually exist and that it will
be capable of experiencing more than we ordinary humans can. Since, as we
all agree, the AGI will be capable of sensing, evaluating and integrating
experiential data into knowledge structures that are larger than any a human
brain could hold--and will do it all much faster--there is every reason to
believe that the AGI's larger experiences will become qualitatively
different from any we can imagine.

The point where I differ with you, Ben, is in the distinction I would like
to make between experience and cognition with respect to "the great truths
of spirituality." What we experience is not the same as what we know, or
cognize, in the sense of having deep understanding of it. We might call this
"recognition" because it is a "knowing again" in some way that is deeper
than an immediate impression.

In meditation and in altered states of consciousness we may experience
aspects of our minds (and bodies and environments) that we had not seen
before (or were not consciously aware of). But having these experiences is
not the same as understanding how they fit into the larger picture of

For example, someone might take up meditation and eventually have some
so-called "spiritual" experience in which the person seems to leave the
body, or see lights, hear sounds, detect smells, that all seem like
something from another realm. The person then might decide to meditate even
more in order to have these experiences again and again.

Some people call this spiritual advancement. In Zen, we call it delusion.

My point is that deep understanding has nothing to do with experience per
se, whether of the ordinary take-out-the-garbage type or the extremely
subjective "I've-left-my-body" type. Understanding (which is a better
translation of the Buddhist term that, unfortunately, is usually translated
as "Enlightenment") means knowing things as they truly are. In truth,
experience high or low is just experience. But seeing it all as **just
that** is understanding, or if you will, wisdom.

One doesn't need a human brain to realize this wisdom-understanding. An AGI
could certainly understand it, too. But in neither case is such an
understanding automatic. The wise have had teachers.

Mike LaTorra

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