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The Rise of Robots, What Would the Buddha Think?

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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H4 12/17/09

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....While the ability of inanimate objects to have a soul is common to Buddhism, other religions, especially those that insist that human beings were created in the image of God, tend to disagree with the chance of robots being equal to people.

"Even if robots have intelligence, they will never have a soul. Robots will never be equal to people, because people have an ability to believe in God by choice, and love Him and worship Him," a Christian pastor, Igor Ubiy-Vovk, told RT..... Source RT

The Buddha taught that all life forms exist because of relationships. He taught that consciousness arises from various interactions and that man didn't have an eternal, independent soul.

Rather, according to the Buddha, humans only think they possess a self that is separate from the rest of life.

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I believe that Robots will likely be made to have some sort of consciousness just like every other structure likely possesses some sort of consciousness.

But it is also likely that man and machine will evolve into a completely different race than what we see today. While the various religions of the world will be lost to explain this 'Brave New World,' Buddhism offers us the correct understanding that life and consciousness are not separate but interrelated with everything.

Life and consciousness are constantly changing and evolving. We shouldn't expect, according to the Buddha, anything substantial or unchanging. Indeed the various relationships that make up life should be respected and cared for with understanding, no matter how that life evolves. Higher functioning beings will recognize their relationship in the web of life and honor it, according to the Buddha.

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As humanity takes control of its own evolution, man and machine will likely evolve into a cybernetic organism. But no matter how we evolve in the future, there will still be as much need for ethics and compassion. The Buddha's dharma, or correct understanding of living, offers humanity a civilized way to make that transition from human to cyborg.

I am not fond of the idea of humanity evolving into part machine, but I am a realist. I understand that if the technology is there to extend life and to make it more livable then people are going to demand it. Also, people will likely utilize machines and demand that they be their servants or perhaps even their mates.

But in this 'Brave New World' of Cyborgs and Robots, evolved humanity will still need to recognize that all the stuff and things of life are not separate, but can only exist because they depend on the 'apparent' other.

If humanity doesn't destroy itself, it will extend itself in its evolved form out into the cosmos. But no matter what type of life humanity evolves into and no matter where it goes, it will still need to recognize that to live a more meaningful and helpful life, humanity must somehow gain a respect and appreciation for all that is.

The Buddha and Buddhism ask us to consider the way life works and the best way to live life, no matter how that life looks now or in the future.

The Buddha might be surprised at the way humanity is evolving, but he would not have to change his views on life, consciousness, or the remedy to the pain and suffering of life.

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Ultimately, there is the spiritual that transcends man, machine, and matter. No matter how things interact, form, and transform. The Buddha understood and taught that there is the great essence of being that is found in the fact that none of us are separate from anything. But, rather, our lives are a temporary drop in the ocean of being.


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