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Subject:What we may become... From:Michael LaTorra <mikel -at- ACCUGRAPH -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 19 Jul 1995 13:44:24 MDT
What's the difference between you and your computer?
Maybe less than you think.
I transcribed the conversation quoted below from the
book _GENTLE BRIDGES: Conversations with the Dalai Lama
on the Sciences of Mind_ by Jeremy Hayward and Francisco Varela
[Shambala, 1992] pp. 152-153.
Live long & prosper,
mikel -at- huey -dot- accugraph -dot- com
The opinions expressed are my own, ][ "The most powerful force
and not necessarily those of my ][ changing our society is the
company -- but they probably ][ information revolution."
should be. ][ -- Newt Gingrich
DALAI LAMA: In terms of the actual substance of which computers are
made, are they simply metal, plastic, circuits, and so forth?
VARELA: Yes, but this again brings up the idea of the pattern, not the
substance but the pattern.
DALAI LAMA: It is very difficult to say that it's not a living being,
that it doesn't have cognition, even from the Buddhist point of view.
We maintain that there are certain types of births in which a
preceding continuum of consciousness is the basis. The consciousness
doesn't actually arise from the matter, but a continuum of consciousness
might conceivably come into it.
HAYWARD: Does Your Holiness regard it as a definite criterion that
there must be continuity with some prior consciousness? That
whenever there is a cognition, there must have been a stream of
cognition going back to beginningless time?
DALAI LAMA: There is no possibility for a new cognition, which has no
relationship to a previous continuum, to arise at all. I can't totally
rule out the possibility that, if all the external conditions and the
karmic action were there, a stream of consciousness might actually enter into
HAYWARD: A stream of consciousness?
DALAI LAMA: Yes, that's right. [DALAI LAMA laughs.] There is a
possibility that a scientist who is very much involved his whole life
[with computers], then the next life . . . [he would be reborn in a
computer], same process! [laughter] Then this machine which is
half-human and half-machine has been reincarnated.
VARELA: You wouldn't rule it out then? You wouldn't say this is
DALAI LAMA: We can't rule it out.
ROSCH: So if there's a great yogi who is dying and he is standing
in front of the best computer there is, could he project his
subtle consciousness into the computer?
DALAI LAMA: If the physical basis of the computer acquires the
potential or the ability to serve as a basis for a continuum of
consciousness. I feel this question about computers will be resolved
only by time. We just have to wait and see until it actually happens.