Ian Goddard (Ian@Goddard.net)
Fri, 02 Oct 1998 23:43:59 -0400

At 10:43 PM 10/2/98 EDT, you wrote:

>Ha ! very nice,
>Pirsigs ideas on Quality have been useful in Extropian epistemology.
[mine at
>least] Even if in the final analysis you counter Pirsig's arguments, you need
>to consider his critique. It strikes to the heart of strong AI, the
>can the Quality of human consiousness can be completly contained by
>mechanical computations? Or can the quantative calculation simulate the
>brain, or is the Quality of consciousness, beyond material, not capable of
>computation. As for the Zen, I think Buddhism is the most Extropian
>religion. I know that not many Extropians adhere to conventional religions,
>but Buddhism's idea that one can transcend the human suffering, and reach
>enlightenment by mental effort and self development is Extropian. The
>Bohdisattva ideal is an excellent example of a trans/post human. Affirmation
>methods are a tool in personality development, like the Tibetan practice of
>repeating a mantra 100,000 times.

IAN: Good points! Buddhism also shares a very deep connection to Extropian-AI philosophy, which is the claim that the mind isn't inhabited by a spirit, that the self-nature of mind, of the ego, is void. "Self" is an illusion produced by neuroanatomy, and as such, a highly sophisticated computer could do the same.

Of course, there is ground for disagreement between Buddhist and Western thought that centers on the issue of consciousness. The prevailing Buddhist view on the true nature of consciousness is that consciousness is a neutral, free-base that's the basis of everything, and yet its self-nature is void, without locality, without recognition of form, name, or place. A state of oblivion that is just being. But this free base is as available to a computer as it is to a brain, since it is all space-time.

The view would purport that consciousness is the space-time field, which brains localize by illusion.

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