Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche
Jun 27, 2024

Humans or AI: Which Is More Trustworthy? with Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche (video)

Himalayan Buddhist leader Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche reflects on the challenges and opportunities of AI.

By Templeton Staff

Intelligence with “kindness at heart” is beneficial — whether human or AI.

Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, Buddhist leader, Board Memeber of Center for the Study of Apparent Selves (CSAS)

At a recent workshop in Namo Buddha, Nepal, members from the research team at Center for the Study of the Apparent Selves (CSAS) discussed the trustworthiness of both humans and artificial intelligence (AI). 

In this video, Himalayan Buddhist leader and CSAS Advisory Board member, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche speaks from Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, to add to that discourse.

Which is more trustworthy AI or humans video still

Watch the video for Rinpoche's reflection on the emergence of evermore powerful technology, the factors that may be driving that development, and the potential outcomes.

The Buddhist tradition teaches that a radical expansion of intelligence arises from a radical expansion of care. With TWCF funding, a multidisciplinary research team led by Thomas Doctor at Center for the Study of Apparent Selves (CSAS) is exploring the idea that artificial intelligence (AI) cannot emulate human intelligence unless it is imbued with the capacity of care, with kindness at its core.

"Caring for" is epitomized in the Buddhist tradition by an embracing stance associated with the character of the Bodhisattva, a person on the path toward becoming a Buddha. Drawing from Buddhist philosophy, evolutionary biology, and AI theory, CSAS explores the interconnectedness of stress, care, and intelligence. Trustworthiness plays a key role in the act of caring.

Key Takeaways:
  • “Technology is very helpful to the whole world. It helps the world become more beautiful,” says Rinponche. It makes traveling more comfortable, allows for medical advances, and in general can help make living easier. “It is also unpredictable,” he warns, and urges us to “think well,” and calmly, “keeping kindness in our hearts.”
  • Rinpoche says there is a worry that unchecked or misdirected use of or reliance on AI could “shrink human dignity.” It’s important not to use AI for greed or false pride, or this may widen the gap between the rich and the poor. This gap and loss of dignity could leave society “more fragile and dark.”
  • There’s a need for thoughtful discussions among all societal sectors about the ethical implications of AI. The Abbot calls upon religious leaders, politicians, and scientists to consider both the perils and promise of this powerful new technology.
  • Rinpoche suggests whether it's human or artificial, a kind intelligence is what’s helpful for everyone. If we prioritize kindness and act humbly, AI is more likely to benefit humanity without causing harm.

The Center for the Study of Apparent Selves (CSAS) is an international scientific research institute based in Nepal, which began as an exploration of the relationship between Buddhism and AI. Its interdisciplinary team studies networks of intelligence — the theories and practices of insightful cooperation. CSAS believes that along with the perils of human/machine interaction, there is a promise that these interactions can be generative and lead to a wholesome and sustainable symbiosis of organic and artificial intelligences, and fostering flourishing for humans and all beings.

Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche is an Abbot at Ka Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery, Kathmandu, Nepal

Rangjung Yeshe Institute (RYI) was founded by Rinpoche as an institution of higher learning for those wishing to deepen their understanding of Buddhist philosophy and practice.

Dr. Thomas Doctor, director of the related TWCF-funded project is Principal and Professor at Kathmandu University, Center for Buddhist Studies at RYI.

More on this topic:

The Promise and Perils of Artificial Intelligence: New Frontiers for World Religions (video)

Ethical Artificial Intelligence: Religious Leaders Discuss the Impact of AI on Human Flourishing (podcast)